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article imageEssential Science: Gut bacteria affect how the colon moves

By Tim Sandle     Feb 10, 2020 in Science
A research study, looking at the microbiome of the human gut, shows how gut bacteria influence how the colon moves, and with this how digestion is controlled along with reasons for poor digestive health.
It has been established for several years, as the findings from the Human Microbiome Project are dissected, that the microbial community found in the human gastrointestinal tract affects health and well-being.
A new study indicates that the gut microbiome (the collection of organisms and their genes found in the gut) help gut neurons to control muscle movement in the colon (the biological process of peristalsis, which aids the progression of food).
While digestion processes normally remain in control, it remains that the gut is a highly dynamic environment and one subject to periodic waves of peristaltic activity.
The study was undertaken by scientists based at Development and Homeostasis of the Nervous System Laboratory at the Crick Institute in London, U.K.
Research study into the human gut
The researchers found, from using nuclear RNA sequencing to examine distinct intestinal segments under conditions of different microbiota states, that the intrinsic neural networks of the colon display different transcriptional profiles. These profiles, which can mean the difference between a health digestive system or an unhealthy one, are controlled by a combination of the body’s genetic make-up and different types of microbial colonization.
It may be possible to treat superbugs with a predatory bacteria.
It may be possible to treat superbugs with a predatory bacteria.
University of Nottingham
Specifically, it was discovered that the presence of certain bacteria activate a gene called Ahr, which is located within intestinal nerve cells. This activation takes place during healthy gut peristalsis.
As lead researcher Dr. Yuuki Obata tells Laboratory Roots: “There is a clear link between the presence of microbes in the colon and the speed at which food moves through the system. If this relationship goes off-kilter it could cause considerable harm.”
Research outcome
The implications from the research are that sustaining a balanced intestinal microbial community is critical for maintaining intestinal health and preventing chronic inflammation.
An image created using the Body Talk software.
An image created using the Body Talk software.
Body Talk
The following video explains more about the findings:
Research importance
The reason why the research is important is because various factors, like diet and microbiota, regulate the neurogenic programs of gut motility. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms have long remained unclear. Unraveling these is seen as important for understanding various gastrointestinal disorders.
Research paper
The research findings have been reported to the science journal Nature. The study is titled “Neuronal programming by microbiota regulates intestinal physiology.”
Essential Science
This article is part of Digital Journal's regular Essential Science columns. Each week Tim Sandle explores a topical and important scientific issue.
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More about Bacteria, digestion, Colon, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Food
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