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Gut microbes boost immune cells

Bacteria living in the small intestine support the generation of regulatory T-cells (Tregs) that suppress auto-immune reactions and inflammation. New research sheds light on how our bodies communicate with our gut bacteria.

The new study, from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, has discovered that a chemical produced by the bacteria from bile boosts the local generation of the immunosuppressive immune cells in the colon. These Tregs help dampen chronic intestinal inflammation, a major driver of colorectal cancers.

Bile is produced by the liver and helps to digest fats in the small intestine. Some of this bile is metabolised by gut bacteria, resulting in a substance known as isoDCA.

Dendritic cells in the colon induce immune responses in response to bile acids, but the researchers found that isoDCA blocks this response, causing the dendritic cells to go into an anti-inflammatory state and produce Tregs instead.

This new knowledge could help researchers to develop new classes of treatments that could help reduce the risk of colon cancers in future. It also reinforces the importance of diet to gut health.

At PIM we have a particular interest in the gut microbiome and its effects on our health and wellbeing. Contact us to find out more.


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