Saturday, August 1, 2015

National Psoriasis Foundation: The Bugs are Pulling the Strings

Wonder what kind of bacteria was chasing around the intestines of this guy? Image found on WikiMedia

Thanks to Kate Hand (@KateHand3) for tweeting a link to the National Psoriasis Foundation's interesting discussion regarding the effect of the gut microbiome on the immune system:
Microbes outnumber us. Our bodies have about 10 trillion cells each, but we host approximately 
100 trillion microbial cells. The gut alone, which includes our stomach and intestines, is home to about three pounds of bacteria. Microbes also are, in some ways, smarter than us. They're not just taking up space; many actually tell parts of our immune system what to do. 
We already know that our immune system targets microbes — that's how it defends us from harmful pathogens. Researchers now realize that some microbes are actually an important part of our immune defenses, controlling the development of key components of our immune system. 
"Microbes have figured out our immune system in ways that we, as scientists, still don't fully understand," said Sarkis Mazmanian, a microbiologist at the California Institute of Technology. 
We rely on our immune system to distinguish between microbial invaders that might make us sick and the harmless bacteria that are always inside us, said Mazmanian. Based on this distinction, the immune system decides when and when not to attack. But the immune system doesn't make this decision by itself. 
"Part of the decision-making process is actually controlled by specific gut microbes," said Mazmanian. 
In other words, the bugs are pulling the strings.
You can read the entire article here.

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