Saturday, January 24, 2015

Heritable microbiome? New findings with some hope for overcoming life style diseases

Can any one believe that microbes can be inherited by children from their parents and the vulnerability of the off springs to major diseases like CVD, Diabetes and obesity is determined by the bacterial species inherited? Such a hypothesis is being put forward by a group of scientists working together from the UK and the US. The study further claims that lean individuals with least susceptibility to put on weight have a family of bacteria that may hold key to solving the obesity epidemic confronting the world. They have been able to confirm their hypothesis through animal experiments using these specific bacterial cultures and would be looking for a pro-biotic therapy approach to treat obesity related diseases. Here is a take on this unbelievable claim which if proved correct may open up an entirely new therapy giving hope to millions of obesity affected people across the world.

A new study has determined that not only are bacteria naturally found in the gut involved in obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, but they are genetically inherited. Researchers at King's College London and Cornell University identified a highly-heritable bacterial family that is more common in individuals with low body weight and that could pave the way for genetics-based personalized probiotic therapies for obesity-related diseases. The study examined 1,081 fecal samples taken from 977 people – 171 pairs of identical twins and 245 pairs of non-identical twins, plus 145 other, individual twins. Microbes from a bacterial family called Christensenellaceae, and to a lesser extent other specific microbe populations, were significantly more similar in the identical twins than non-identical twins, suggesting a strong genetic (and thus hereditary) influence in gut microbe composition. The study suggests that altering the Christensenellaceae population may have a direct impact on susceptibility to obesity, as mice treated with the microbe gained less weight than untreated mice. The researchers believe that similar personalized microbe treatments in humans could be a promising new aid in the fight against obesity – both in terms of prevention and reduction.

Whether the word "inherited" can be used here is some what questionable because bacterial cells are not considered transferable to the child while in the womb. Usually the new born child develops its microbiome during the early days of breast feeding by the mother and during suckling only surface bacteria can be transferred through the oral route. The gut bacteria which is a part of the gastrointestinal system of the mother may have no easy route to the GI of the child though many organisms in the gut are also present in other parts of mother's body. Whether such passage of microbiome from mother to the off spring is determined by the genes of the mother inherited by the baby is not clear. Another confusing picture is that the gut microbiome is influenced very much by the diet and its profile rapidly changes depending on the food consumed. Probably further research may bring out how mother's gut bacteria is transmitted to the baby to develop the "weight" control faculty of the mother in the child.


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