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Even the fetus has intestinal bacteria, study shows


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A study in humans and mice has shown that a fetus has its own microbiome, or communities of bacteria that live in the gut, which are known to play important roles in the immune system and metabolism. The researchers also confirmed that the fetal microbiome is transmitted by the mother. These findings open the door to potential interventions during pregnancy to stimulate the fetal microbiome when expecting a premature birth, to help the baby grow faster and to be better equipped to tolerate the risk of infection early in life. The study was published in the journal JCI Insight.

"Our study provides strong evidence that a complex microbiome is transmitted from mother to fetus," says senior author Patrick Seed, MD, Ph.D., associate director of basic science research at Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, Chicago, and professor of research in pediatrics, microbiology, and immunology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Unlike other studies that rely only on next-generation DNA sequencing, we validate our results with microscopy and culture techniques to resolve a decades-long controversy over the existence of a fetal microbiome. Now we can look for ways to boost development." of the fetal immune system and metabolism, stimulating the mother's microbiome. Our findings point to many promising opportunities for much earlier intervention to prevent future disease. "

The human microbiome is estimated to consist of more than one trillion bacteria in a single person, with 10 times the number of microbial cells for each human cell. Research has established that microbiome-specific characteristics play causal roles in obesity, allergy, asthma, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, depression, and a variety of cancers.

"The establishment of a dynamic fetus microbiome leads us to suspect that controlled exposure to microbes trains the immune system and developing metabolism," says Dr. Seed. "We need more research to better understand the mechanisms involved and how we can intervene to improve the health of children early in life and beyond."

Growth failure of preterm infants linked to altered intestinal bacteria

More information:
Noelle Younge et al., Fetal exposure to maternal microbiota in humans and mice, JCI Insight (2019). DOI: 10.1172 / jci.insight.127806

Provided by
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Chicago Children's Hospital

Even the fetus has intestinal bacteria, study shows (2019, October 23)
consulted on October 23, 2019

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