The body's bacteria affect intestinal blood vessel formation

March 26, 2012

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have discovered a previously unknown mechanism which helps intestinal bacteria to affect the formation of blood vessels. The results, which are presented in Nature, may provide future treatments of intestinal diseases and obesity.

There are ten times more bacteria in our intestines than cells in the human body. However, we know relatively little about how the normal gut microbiota functions and the resulting effects on our physiology.

Previously unknown mechanism

In a study of mice, researchers at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy have discovered a previously unknown mechanism by which gut microbiota influences intestinal physiology and blood remodelling. The results, which are published in the online version of the highly respected scientific journal Nature on 11 March, open up future opportunities to control the intestine's absorption of nutrients, which in turn may be used to treat conditions such as and obesity.

New blood vessels

The study focuses on villi, finger-like projections which are about one millimetre long, and which increase the surface area of the intestine and maximise its ability to absorb nutrients. In the presence of bacteria, these villi become shorter and wider, which means that new must be formed. However, the process involved has previously been unclear.

"Zip code" for protein signals

"Our study shows that signals from the normal gut microbiota that induces in the " says researcher Fredrik Bäckhed, who led the study at the Sahlgrenska Academy. "In simplified terms, the promote the mucosal cells in the intestine to attach a sugar molecule to a specific protein. The sugar molecule acts like a zip code moving it to the cell surface where it induces signaling.

"It will take time before the results can be applied in a clinical context and converted into new therapies. But our discovery is exciting, and is a result of fundamental basic research which teaches us a great deal about how we live in cooperation with the normal gut microobiota."

Explore further: Tales from the crypt: Study on gut cell regeneration reconciles long-standing research controversy

More information: Tissue factor and PAR1 promote microbiota-induced intestinal vascular remodeling, published in Nature on 11 March.

Related Stories

Tales from the crypt: Study on gut cell regeneration reconciles long-standing research controversy

November 11, 2011
The cells that help to absorb food and liquid that humans consume are constantly being produced. The various cell types that do this come from stem cells that reside deep in the inner recesses of the accordion-like folds ...

Recommended for you

Link between cells associated with aging and bone loss

August 21, 2017
Mayo Clinic researchers have reported a causal link between senescent cells - the cells associated with aging and age-related disease - and bone loss in mice. Targeting these cells led to an increase in bone mass and strength. ...

Gut microbes may talk to the brain through cortisol

August 21, 2017
Gut microbes have been in the news a lot lately. Recent studies show they can influence human health, behavior, and certain neurological disorders, such as autism. But just how do they communicate with the brain? Results ...

Are stem cells the link between bacteria and cancer?

August 17, 2017
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths, primarily because most patients present at an advanced stage of the disease. The main cause of this cancer is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ...

Two-step process leads to cell immortalization and cancer

August 17, 2017
A mutation that helps make cells immortal is critical to the development of a tumor, but new research at the University of California, Berkeley suggests that becoming immortal is a more complicated process than originally ...

New Pathology Atlas maps genes in cancer to accelerate progress in personalized medicine

August 17, 2017
A new Pathology Atlas is launched today with an analysis of all human genes in all major cancers showing the consequence of their corresponding protein levels for overall patient survival. The difference in expression patterns ...

Female mouse embryos actively remove male reproductive systems

August 17, 2017
A protein called COUP-TFII determines whether a mouse embryo develops a male reproductive tract, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.