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article imageGut microbes change after spinal cord injury

By Tim Sandle     Oct 18, 2016 in Science
Further research about the body’s dynamic microbiome has been published, this time in relation to alterations following a spinal cord injury. The findings are important for patient recovery.
Various research papers have shown how the microbiome (the communities of microorganisms that reside on and wit in different regions of the human body) affect health. This is particularly so with the gut microbiome, which has been linked with different metabolic diseases.
Medics have long known that spinal cord injuries can adversely affect the gut’s ability to function properly. New research suggests that the composition of the microorganisms in the gut plays a key role within this.
Here scientists from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have conducted studies on mice. The experiments indicate that spinal cord injury trigger significant changes in the gut microbiota. To counteract the negative effects, the research has also shown that feeding mice probiotics, following a spinal cord injury, confers a degree of neuroprotection and improves functional recovery.
It is thought that a major spinal cord injury triggers the movement of bacteria from gut into sterile tissues throughout the body. This is termed “bacterial translocation” and it leads to activation of immune cells.
Commenting on the research, Philip Popovich, professor of neuroscience and director of The Center for Brain and Spinal Cord Repair at Ohio State’s Neurological Institute said in a message to Digital Journal: “The trillions of microbes that exist in the gastrointestinal tract have emerged as pivotal regulators of human development and physiology. Spinal cord injuries cause dramatic shifts in the types of bacteria normally found in the gut, resulting in dysbiosis, which can cause or contribute to neurologic disease.”
Probiotics can overcome this. These concoctions of live bacteria can help to protect the microbiome and confer neuroprotection. It is hoped this information will lead to further studies and eventual changes to the diets of patients following a spinal cord injury.
The research has been published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The research paper is titled “Gut dysbiosis impairs recovery after spinal cord injury.”
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