Interactions between microbiota and the host are very complex and play the crucial role not only in basic physiological processes but also in development (and healing!) of a number of chronic diseases: metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases, mental disorders and even cancer, to name only a few. It is widely accepted now that human genotype and dietary habits aren’t the only factors contributing to the development of metabolic diseases. It is all about the interplay between these two and host microbiome composition. Obesity itself has been proven to be directly associated with gut microbiome dysbiosis resulting in damaged gut epithelial barrier and impaired metabolism overall.
What if we could reverse it?
It is already known that it works for obese mice that had their intestinal microbiome substituted with one collected from lean individuals. Their adiposity was greatly reduced and so the outcome was shortly named a miracle. Are these tiny microbes so powerful for real? Quite recently it has been shown, that gut microbiome may play a role in type 2 diabetes development as well. There is a growing evidence that lowering microbial diversity in guts results in chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and impaired amino acid metabolism – all of these being well-established diabetes symptoms. On the other hand, an abundance of certain species of Enterobacteriaceae family is known to be linked to cardiovascular disease (CVC). What is more, CVD patients often show low levels of healthy gut microbiome bacteria and it seems to be a promising and non-invasive biomarker for CVD diagnostics.
So do we head for a breakthrough?
Gut-brain axis that plays the main role in proper gastrointestinal and brain functions is a well-known concept for over a half a century now. Thanks to some recent research, we know that microbiome is another player there. Its role in protecting intestinal barrier and tight junction integrity in enterocytes is obvious. It is also known to modulate enteric sensory neurons and regulate the mucosal immune system. The abundance of certain genera or quite the contrary – their deficiency, may lead to a shortage of some metabolites present in the healthy organism and induce intestinal defects typical of irritable bowel disease or inflammatory bowel disease. But that is not all. Absence of some microbial genera is linked to altered production, expression and turnover of neurotransmitters, mainly due to reduced gene expression and impaired synthesis of serotonin, GABA etc.. As a result, microbiota present in the intestine directly influences brain neurological functions. What we talk about here is also inducing various mental disorders like anxiety, depression or maybe even autism.
Microbial influence on immune cell functions and metabolic pathways is also associated with tumorigenesis as revealed by some studies. The extent and clear interactions are still not fully understood but what we know now is that not only pathogenic bacteria presence but also lack of commensals may lead to changing human cancer susceptibility and progression. What if modulating the microbiome led to considerable improvement in cancer treatment and care?
We do ask questions. We do test hypotheses. Our mission is quite straight – to better understand microbiome-host interactions and provide new solutions with proven effectiveness for treatment and routine use in clinical practice.