Bacteria-binding Protein in Gut May Work to Limit Inflammation in the Bowel and Elsewhere

Bacteria-binding Protein in Gut May Work to Limit Inflammation in the Bowel and Elsewhere
A bacteria-binding protein called ZG16 was found to be a key player in the gastrointestinal tract's protective barrier, responsible both for controlling the resident bacteria population and for keeping them at a safe distance from the host. A lack of ZG16 in the gut of mice was shown to result in both inflammation and abdominal fat accumulation, according to a new research. The study, “Gram-positive bacteria are held at a distance in the colon mucus by the lectin-like protein ZG16,” published in the PNAS scientific journal, provided new information as to how the human body can be affected by, and respond to, the large quantities of bacteria commonly found in the gut. "The hope is that eventually, we'll be able to administer this protein to improve protection against bacteria in patients with a defective barrier," Joakim Bergström, the study's lead researcher, said in a press release. A mucus layer protects the body from gut bacteria, composed of proteins produced by specialized cells (goblet cells) that separate intestinal bacteria from the surface of the intestine. This is the first protective barrier that stops resident intestinal bacteria from harming tissues or causing inflammation. The research shows that the ZG16 protein, working together with the protective mucus layer, could bind and aggregate bacteria, clumping them so as to prevent them from reaching and penetrating the intestinal wall. Animal models that lack this protein have a defective a mucus layer, one that allows bacteria to pass the intestinal
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