The composition of the gut microbiota is influenced by a variety of factors, including nutrition and the body’s production of the gut defense molecule defensin, researchers at Umeå University in Sweden have discovered. Instead, they discovered a possible function for these molecules in preventing blood sugar levels from rising after consuming a high-calorie “Western-style diet.”
“While the effect of defensins on shaping the adult microbiota composition is smaller than that of diet, defensins play a very important role in protecting us from microbial infections; and our research highlights their protective role against metabolic complications that can arise later. intake,” said Fabiola Puertolos Balint, a PhD student at Umeå University’s Department of Molecular Biology.
She is working in Bjorn Schroder’s research group, which is also affiliated with Umea Center of Microbial Research, UCMR, and The Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden, MIMS at Umea University.
Gut microbiota refers to the community of trillions of microbes that live in everyone’s gut. Over the past decades, the abundance of specific bacteria in this community has been extensively studied due to its association with many diseases, including inflammatory bowel diseases, obesity and diabetes, and psychiatric disorders. A microbial community is seeded at birth, after which many internal and external factors help shape the community into its final composition. These factors include, among others, diet (especially fiber), genetics, medications, exercise, and defense molecules, the so-called antimicrobial peptides.
Antimicrobial peptides can be considered the body’s own naturally produced antibiotic molecules. In particular, the largest group of antimicrobial peptides—defensins—are produced by all body surfaces, including the skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. Defensins are considered the first line of defense of the immune system against infection, but at the same time they are also considered essential for shaping the microbiota composition in the small intestine. However, it was unclear until now how large their effect was compared to diet, which is known to have a large effect.
To investigate this, researchers from the Bjorn Schroder lab used normal healthy mice and compared their microbiota composition in the small intestine with mice that could not produce functional defensins in the gut, and then both groups of mice were fed either a healthy diet or a reduced diet. Fiber western style diet.
“When we analyzed the microbiota composition in the gut and the stomach wall of two different regions in the small intestine, we were surprised—and a little disappointed—that defensins had only a small effect on shaping the overall microbiota composition,” Bourne said. Schroeder.
However, intestinal defensins still had some effect on the intestinal wall, where defensins are produced and secreted. Here, a few different bacteria appeared to be affected by the presence of defensins, among them Dubosiella and Bifidobacteria, possibly due to the selective antimicrobial activity of defensins.
“To our surprise, we also found that eating a Western-style diet and lacking functional defensin increased fasting blood glucose values, indicating that defensins may help protect against metabolic disorders associated with eating an unhealthy diet,” Bourne said. Schroeder.
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