From the print edition of The Economist:
“A GOOD way to make yourself unpopular at dinner parties is to point out that a typical person is, from a microbiologist’s perspective, a walking, talking Petri dish. An extraordinary profusion of microscopic critters inhabit every crack and crevice of the typical human, so many that they probably outnumber the cells of the body upon and within which they dwell.
Happily, these microbes are mostly harmless. Some of them, particularly those that live in the gut, are positively beneficial, helping with digestion and keeping the intestines in good working order. That is no surprise—bacteria as much as people have an interest in keeping their homes in sound condition. What is surprising is the small but growing body of evidence which suggests that bacteria dwelling in the gut can affect the brain, too, and thereby influence an individual’s mood and behaviour. The most recent paper on the topic, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reports (like much of the research in this field) on results in mice. Continue reading
From Science Daily:
“The mammalian gut is home to hundreds of bacterial species that contribute to food digestion and, in some cases, inflammatory gut diseases. Probiotics, beneficial bacterial species, can enhance gut health by keeping the resident bacteria in check. Now, a team of researchers at the RIKEN Innovation Center in Wako, including Mitsuharu Matsumoto, report that administration of the probiotic bacterial strain Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis LKM512 to mice can lengthen their lifespan.
Matsumoto and colleagues previously showed that LKM512 could reduce inflammatory markers in elderly humans and modify the makeup of intestinal bacteria2, but the effects of it on lifespan still required investigation. After starting 10-month-old mice on a diet including LKM512 for 11 months, the researchers found that LKM512-treated mice lived longer, had fewer skin lesions, and had better hair quality than untreated mice. Continue reading
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“A fresh perspective on autism research with the developing “Bacterial Theory” of autism. The fastest-growing developmental disorder in the industrialized world, autism has increased an astounding 600 per cent over the last 20 years. Continue reading
From Robert Martone, in Scientific American, “The Neuroscience of the gut”:
We human beings may think of ourselves as a highly evolved species of conscious individuals, but we are all far less human than most of us appreciate. Scientists have long recognized that the bacterial cells inhabiting our skin and gut outnumber human cells by ten-to-one.
Indeed, Princeton University scientist Bonnie Bassler compared the approximately 30,000 human genes found in the average human to the more than 3 million bacterial genes inhabiting us, concluding that we are at most one percent human. We are only beginning to understand the sort of impact our bacterial passengers have on our daily lives. Continue reading