New gut microbiome discovery may lead to groundbreaking treatments for GI conditions

The gut microbiome is an important health component that affects the majority of the organs and systems of the body. A recent study focusing on the gut microbiome may be a vital link to groundbreaking future treatment of gastrointestinal ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and slow transit constipation.  

Components of the Gut Microbiome Study

The current study at the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases examines the depletion and restoration of the gut microbiome that cause change to gut function and alteration to gut structure in animal models. The findings show that reduction of the gut microbiome results in a loss of neurons. However, natural recovery of the gut microbiome regenerates new neuron growth and recovers the functions of the gut.   

“The findings from our work provide clues as to the mechanisms that control ‘plasticity’ or the ability of the gut nervous system to be repaired if it undergoes damage,” says Dr. Keith Sharkey, Ph.D. in a statement. Sharkey is a senior author of the study and a professor at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Cumming School of Medicine. Sharkey made the discovery with a research team from UCalgary and the University of Colorado.

Enteric neurons & glial cells
Enteric neurons and glial cells in the myenteric plexus of the colon in an animal after natural microbial recolonization of the gut following antibiotic treatment (Image credit: Laurie Wallace, Sharkey lab)

Insight into Future Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders

The gut microbiome aids in regulating the physiology of the gastrointestinal system through interaction with the enteric nervous system (ENS). This part of the nervous system controls the functions of the gastrointestinal tract. However, a change occurs in the gut microbiome when the gut is under stress from gastrointestinal disorders. This alteration also involves changes and disruptions in the ENS. This change to the gut microbiome and the ENS is a lingering question at the center of continuing research.

Gastrointestinal diseases that cause alteration to the state and physiology of the gut and the ENS can be difficult to treat. However, the ongoing study reveals more insight into aspects that play a role in regulating the ENS. With further exploration of the intricate connection between gut health and the gut microbiome, researchers can begin to investigate potential options for treating gastrointestinal diseases and disorders or gut damage. 

The medical usage options stemming from this research are still a ways off in regards to treating patients with these gastrointestinal issues. Yet researchers and scientists across the board are hopeful that the greater understanding that this study provides will impact how medical professionals can effectively treat patients with gastrointestinal diseases and gut damage in the years to come.

This study is published in Microbiome.

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