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Intestinal enzyme helps maintain population of beneficial bacteria
Date:10/18/2010

An enzyme that keeps intestinal bacteria out of the bloodstream may also play an important role in maintaining the normal microbial population of the gastrointestinal system. Since the loss of beneficial bacteria that usually results from antibiotic therapy can sometimes lead to serious health problems, a treatment that maintains microbial levels could have significant benefits.

"Our mouse studies confirmed that giving this enzyme by mouth keeps the gut healthy, in terms of the microbes that usually live there," says Richard Hodin, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Surgery, senior author of the report in the November issue of the journal Gut. "This could prevent infection with dangerous bacteria like Salmonella and C. difficile, which can occur when the normal bacterial population becomes depleted, and may lead to development of a supplement to maintain intestinal health whenever someone takes an antibiotic."

Virtually all higher animals maintain a population of microbes primarily bacteria in their digestive tracts. These organisms are not only harmless, they also benefit their host by helping with digestion, and their presence prevents the more pathogenic bacteria that may be present from proliferating. Because antibiotics kill all non-resistant bacteria, including those residing in the intestines, the usual balance of beneficial versus harmful microbes is destroyed, leading to problems ranging from diarrhea to infections with dangerous antibiotic-resistant organisms.

A 2008 study by members of Hodin's team that investigated why intestinal bacteria and their toxins do not pass into the bloodstream found that intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP), an enzyme produced by the intestinal lining, blocks the activity of a toxic molecule found on many pathogenic bacteria. Because that study and findings by other groups showed that IAP acts against several bacterial toxins, the MGH researchers lo
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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