Antibiotics allow gut pathogens to 'breathe'

May 2, 2016
Salmonella forms a biofilm. Credit: CDC

Antibiotics are essential for fighting bacterial infection, but, paradoxically, they can also make the body more prone to infection and diarrhea.

Exactly how the resident "good" microbes in the gut protect against pathogens, such as Salmonella, and how antibiotic treatments foster growth of disease-causing microbes have been poorly understood.

But research in a mouse model led by Andreas Bäumler, professor of medical immunology and microbiology at UC Davis Health System, has identified the chain of events that occur within the gut lumen after antibiotic treatment that allow "bad" bugs to flourish.

The finding has profound implications, expanding the current view of how microbes interact with each other at the gut surface and informing the development of new strategies to prevent the side effects of antibiotic treatment, wrote the authors of an accompanying commentary that appeared online with the study April 13 in the journal Cell Host Microbe.

According to Bäumler, the process begins with antibiotics depleting "good" bacteria in the gut, including those that breakdown fiber from vegetables to create butyrate, an essential organic acid that cells lining the large intestine need as an energy source to absorb water. The reduced ability to metabolize fiber prevents these cells from consuming oxygen, increasing oxygen levels in the gut lumen that favor the growth of Salmonella.

"Unlike Clostridia and other in the gut, which grow anaerobically, or in the complete absence of oxygen, Salmonella flourished in the newly created oxygen-rich micro environment after ," Bäumler said. "In essence, antibiotics enabled pathogens in the to breathe."

Other research has linked low levels of butyrate-producing with , but additional research is needed to determine if these findings are limited to butyrate and growth of Salmonella or if similar mechanisms underlie interactions that influence human health.

Explore further: A healthy gut could help prevent deadly side effect of bone marrow transplant

More information: Fabian Rivera-Chávez et al, Depletion of Butyrate-Producing Clostridia from the Gut Microbiota Drives an Aerobic Luminal Expansion of Salmonella, Cell Host & Microbe (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2016.03.004

Related Stories

A healthy gut could help prevent deadly side effect of bone marrow transplant

March 21, 2016
A healthy gut could help prevent deadly side effect of bone marrow transplant

New strategy to protect healthy gut microbes from antibiotics

March 19, 2015
Gut microbes promote human health by fighting off pathogens, but they also contribute to diseases such as diabetes and cancer. A study published March 19th by Cell Reports reveals a potential strategy for tipping the balance ...

Antibiotic resistance is a gut reaction

December 16, 2014
Scientists from the Institute of Food Research and the University of East Anglia have discovered how certain gut bacteria can protect themselves and others in the gut from antibiotics.

Scientists find key to growth of 'bad' bacteria in inflammatory bowel disease

February 7, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists have long puzzled over why "bad" bacteria such as E. coli can thrive in the guts of those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), causing serious diarrhea. Now UC Davis researchers have discovered ...

Gut microbes turn carbs into colorectal cancer

July 17, 2014
Colorectal cancer has been linked to carbohydrate-rich western diets, but the underlying mechanisms have been unclear. A study published by Cell Press July 17th in the journal Cell shows that gut microbes metabolize carbohydrates ...

Early childhood antibiotics may change gut microbes and lead to adolescent prediabetes

April 4, 2016
Young children who take antibiotics may disrupt their gut's microbial ecosystem and be more likely to develop prediabetes in adolescence, new research from Greece reports. The study results will be presented in a poster Sunday, ...

Recommended for you

How rogue immune cells cross the blood-brain barrier to cause multiple sclerosis

November 21, 2017
Drug designers working on therapeutics against multiple sclerosis should focus on blocking two distinct ways rogue immune cells attack healthy neurons, according to a new study in the journal Cell Reports.

New simple test could help cystic fibrosis patients find best treatment

November 21, 2017
Several cutting-edge treatments have become available in recent years to correct the debilitating chronic lung congestion associated with cystic fibrosis. While the new drugs are life-changing for some patients, they do not ...

Researchers discover key signaling protein for muscle growth

November 20, 2017
Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered the importance of a well-known protein, myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88), in the development and regeneration of muscles. Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., ...

New breast cell types discovered by multidisciplinary research team

November 20, 2017
A joint effort by breast cancer researchers and bioinformaticians has provided new insights into the molecular changes that drive breast development.

Brain cell advance brings hope for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

November 20, 2017
Scientists have developed a new system to study Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the laboratory, paving the way for research to find treatments for the fatal brain disorder.

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

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.