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Fungi that live in the gut can be equally important in health and illness

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The role of bacteria in gut health has received a lot of attention in recent years. However, a new study led by scientists at the University of Utah shows that fungi, another microbe that lives in our bodies, can be equally important to health and illness.

Although the fungus propagates in a healthy intestine, it can also cause intestinal damage that can cause inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Nature Experiments with mice on July 14 show that the immune system usually suppresses fungi and targets them when they switch to potentially harmful conditions. When the system is out of balance, it is more likely to get sick.

“Funges have been thoroughly studied because of the large number of bacteria,” said Dr. June Round, a professor of pathology at the University of Utah and the lead author of the study. She adds that new tools and technologies are beginning to enable such research. “This work adds an important part to the big picture.”

These insights open new avenues for developing treatments to improve gut health. The study proof of concept that one day vaccines can be used to suppress gastrointestinal disorders by enhancing the natural immune response that promotes a healthy balance between fungi and other gut flora. Is shown.

The quest for balance

Round was interested in this series of studies after noting that general medical tests for diagnosing Crohn’s disease, a type of IBD, work by detecting antibodies to the fungus. Still, how antibodies affect the effects of fungal diseases on disease has not yet been investigated.

To dig deeper, her team sought to trigger an immune response.When we treated patient samples and tested them in mice, they found that they had yeast. Candida albicans-; One of the major species of fungi present in the human intestine-; evoked the strongest immune response. Further investigation has shown that the antibody focuses on an elongated fungal cell type called hyphae and specifically binds to a protein called adhesin that helps microorganisms attach to and invade the surface.

With this target in hand, researchers can more clearly investigate the role of fungi in gut health. They found that mice that lived in a normally rounded state of yeast remained healthy. In contrast, Candida Its invasive form caused intestinal damage similar to IBD. The results show that a normal antibody response in the intestine inhibits the disease by recognizing harmful hyphal fungi.

IBD is not the only fungal-related health condition. The other is vaginal yeast infection. Researchers have determined that the vaccine being investigated as a treatment for yeast infections has triggered an immune response to the adhesin protein, similar to that in patients with Crohn’s disease. Mice that are usually prone to IBD-like conditions when vaccinated are less likely to develop the disease.

Researchers are currently investigating whether vaccines can help reduce IBD in people, and whether the same approach can be applied more broadly to form other microbial communities in the gut. “We aim to use microbial products for treatment by leveraging interactions with symbiotic microorganisms and the host immune system,” says Round.

Healthy competition

In addition to its effects on disease, findings also suggest that fungi may be important in a healthy gut. Usually, the job of the immune system is to get rid of the infection by getting rid of the invading organisms. In this case, the fungus benefits from its interaction with the antibody. The immune response leads the fungus from an invasive state to a rounded budding state, improving intestinal survival.

“The immune system is constrained Candida Kyla Ost, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Round’s lab and the lead author of the study. “This shows that the communication between the host and the microbe is friendly rather than antagonistic. To benefit both.”

Source:

Journal reference:

Ost, KS, et al. (2021) Adaptive immunity induces commensalism between symbiotic eukaryotes. Nature. doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03722-w..

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