Volume 4 Issue 6

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Page 6 | Abby's Magazine - In yet another example of the profound role of the microbiome in regulating host physiology, a study from the HMP awardee Dr. Eugene B. Chang and colleagues examined the role of the gut microbiome in regulating the host circadian clock, control of which in mammals is located in the brain. Previous research has shown that the host circadian clock regulated microbiome composition. This study now demonstrates that the microbiome regulates the host clock. In germ-free mice, they showed that the mice exhibited significant differences in their metabolism compared to conventional mice, including in their circadian clock genes. They then showed that the microbiome has its own circadian rhythm that was independent of the feeding cycle or any other cycles in the mice. Perhaps most importantly this study The Gut Microbiome Influences Circadian Rhythms demonstrated that a key short chain fatty acid named butyrate was produced by the microbiome with a circadian rhythm pattern and that butyrate can directly influence the host circadian clock. Finally, they provided evidence that a high fat diet could alter the microbiome circadian rhythm, thereby suggesting a link between diet, gut microbiota and obesity, all due to dysregulation of the microbiome circadian clock because of diet. Prebiotics are dietary compounds which promote growth of beneficial microbes. A study by Dr. Chen and colleagues used the HMP data to help show that one such prebiotic (found in foods such as bananas, onions, garlic and asparagus) promotes the growth of about half of the bacteria in the gut microbiome including some pathogenic bacteria, thereby suggesting that not all prebiotics support only beneficial microbes. The gut microbiome provides many protective functions including a particular bacterium protecting against kidney stone formation. A study by Dr. Blaser and colleagues used the HMP data to show that about 31% of the healthy adults in this study carried this bacterium at relatively high levels and that this carriage was stable over time.

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