"If too many bacteria invade this demilitarized zone, you get ramped up production of the protein RegIIIγ and it pushes them back," Dr. Hooper said.
In people with IBD in which inflammation and the body's response to it can result in painful ulcers and bloody diarrhea the demilitarized zone is compromised and more bacteria come in contact with the intestinal lining, she explained.
Dr. Hooper's four-year study, which compared the intestinal health of mice that lacked the protein with that of normal mice, found that mice lacking the protein also lacked the protected space between the bacteria and the intestinal lining.
The researchers have patented RegIIIγ as a potential antibiotic therapeutic, though further study is needed to determine if the protein could be developed to help people with IBD or related diseases.
In her study, Dr. Pfeiffer found that mice lacking the normal intestinal bacteria had half the death rate from polio as mice with intact gut bacteria. The findings were the opposite of what the researchers had expected because, like most people, they had expected the body's intestinal bacteria to offer protection from viral diseases as they have been shown to protect against bacterial infection, she explained.
So Dr. Pfeiffer's research team conducted a series of experiments to validate and expand that finding, all of which backed up the original conclusion. For instance, they found that virus exposed to bacteria could attach to human cells better than virus that lacked bacterial exposure.
Poliovirus is a very wasteful entity, with only about one in 200 viral particles able to cause infection. To determine whether bacteria could make poliov
|Contact: Debbie Bolles|
UT Southwestern Medical Center