Gut Bacteria Change Can Signal That a Bowel Disease Is Developing, Study in Mice Reports

Gut Bacteria Change Can Signal That a Bowel Disease Is Developing, Study in Mice Reports
The mix of bacteria in the mucus lining the intestine begins changing long before symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) show up, according to a study in mice at the University of Manchester in England. Spotting the transition as it begins could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of the disease, researchers said. The study, “Compositional changes in the gut mucus microbiota precede the onset of colitis-induced inflammation,” was published in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. IBD involves inappropriate immune responses to the gut's natural community of microbes, collectively known as the microbiome. The abnormal responses can cause chronic inflammation. Typically, doctors are unable to diagnose the disease until symptoms emerge. Once they see symptoms, they look at stool samples to see if the microbe mix is different than it ought to be. Because the analysis occurs only after a patient begins experiencing gut inflammation, a chicken-and-egg question that has long puzzled researchers is: Are the changes in the gut's bacterial mix causing the inflammation, or are they the result of it? The British researchers decided to look at changes in the gut's bacterial mix before a person developed colitis, or inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. They analyzed the microbe mix in both the mucus covering the gut lining, or epithelium, and in the stools of mice with IBD. The mucus plays a key role in protecting the lining. The bacterial community in the stools was different from the communit
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