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Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response

THURSDAY Oct. 23, 2008 -- Researchers have identified specific types of bacteria in the intestine that trigger the creation of pro-inflammatory immune cells.

The finding may help in the development of new treatments for inflammatory bowel disease and other conditions, said the scientists at the New York University Langone Medical Center.

Gut bacteria have many roles, including aiding in digestion and protecting against harmful bacteria. The study adds to growing evidence that the kinds of bacteria in human stomachs and intestines have an impact on health, the researchers said.

The researchers found that cytophaga-flavobacter-bacteroidetes (CFB) bacteria were associated with the creation of Th17 cells in mice.

"It's not the amount of microbial flora but the kind of microbial flora that seems to count," Dr. Dan Littman, a professor of molecular immunology at the NYU School of Medicine, said in a school news release.

The study was published in the Oct. 16 issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

"There is more and more evidence that gut flora have a tremendously important influence on human health," Yasmine Belkaid, chief of the mucosal immunology unit in the laboratory of parasitic diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said in the news release.

"If some set of microbes induces a specific immune response, this points to a way to manipulate the immune system. This new study is the first report that has associated a defined set of gut flora with the induction of specific immune cells," Belkaid said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about inflammatory bowel disease.

Posted: October 2008


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