Oral bacteria can worsen bowel disease

A team composed of researchers from Japan, the USA, Israel, Egypt, and Singapore has made a breakthrough in discerning the cause of bowel disease. Described in the journal Science last week, their experiments indicate that certain oral bacteria drive intestinal inflammation, a common hallmark of gut conditions.

Bowel disease refers to a large group of diseases. These diseases affect the patients' daily life and sometimes can be life-threatening. Additionally, Bowel disease is more common in some subpopulations and some areas in the world. Therefore, effective therapies are in desperate need.

For the current study, a team led by Kenya Honda from Keio University School of Medicine and Masahira Hattori from the University of Tokyo identifies a connection between normal bacteria in the mouth and prevalent bowel diseases.

This study was built on the previous observation that individuals with a certain form of bowel disease showed elevated levels of oral bacteria in the feces. To uncover the underlying mechanisms, the team collected samples from the mouths of Crohn's disease patients and then transplanted bacteria in the samples into either germ-free mice or healthy mice. In some of the germ-free mice, oral Klebsiella species colonized in the mice' gut and stimulated vigorous proliferation of T helper 1 cells, leading to intestinal inflammation. By contrast, the bacteria did not affect the healthy mice.

Taken together, these data indicate that certain stains of oral bacteria may colonize in the gut when the intestinal microbiota is dysbiotic and may worsen bowel disease. Normally, the intestine can prevent the colonization of non-native bacteria through different ways. But when the intestinal microbiota becomes imbalant, intestinal colonization by bacteria from the mouth occurs and triggers inflammation that contributes to bowel disease. Further research is needed to verify the findings.
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