"The three gut types can explain why the uptake of medicines and nutrients varies from person to person," says bioinformatician Jeroen Raes of the VIB and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, one of the two lead researchers in the study. "This knowledge could form the basis of personalized therapies. Treatments and doses could be determined on the basis of the gut type of the patient."
Improved knowledge of the gut types could also lead to other medical applications, such as the early diagnosis of intestinal cancer, Crohn's disease and the adverse effects of obesity.
Three types of gut microbiota
The types of gut microbiota (called enterotypes) can be classified into three large, clearly distinguishable groups: Bacteroides, Prevotella and Ruminococcus. They are named for the bacteria that dominate the intestines of the respective groups. It is still unclear whether people can change from one group to another during their lives.
Bacteria form strong ecosystem in the gut
Scientists do not yet have a conclusive explanation for the existence of the types of gut microbiota, but all the evidence indicates that only a limited number of stable biotic communities are possible in our intestines. In this way they are comparable to other ecosystems in nature, such as forests, tundra, tropical jungles, savannas and others. Ecosystems have a tendency to evolve towards a stable equilibrium, with certain species that become dominant and others that occupy niches. This also appears to apply to our intestines.
Relationship with BMI
The study shows a connection between human characteristics and gut microbiota. For instance, correlations were found between the Body Mass Index (BMI) and the strains of bacteria in the gut. The more efficiently the bacteria can extract energy from the food, the greater the chance that the person has a high BMI (and therefore struggles with obesity). The researchers found that the presenc
|Contact: Jeroen Raes|
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)