A examine in twins identifies fecal microbiome variations in meals allergy symptoms

Newswise – A new study from the University of Chicago and Stanford University of twin pairs with and without food allergies has identified potential microbial actors in this condition. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation on January 19.

The study arose from previous research at Nagler’s laboratory in UChicago on the fecal microbiota in infants. By transplanting stool microbes from healthy and food-allergic infants into germ-free mice (which do not have a microbiome), the researchers found that the healthy infant microbiota protects against the development of food allergies.

“In this study, we looked at a more diverse population across a wide range of age groups,” said Dr. Cathryn Nagler, Professor for the Bunning Family at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, Department of Pathology and College in UChicago. “By studying pairs of twins, we had the advantage of studying genetically identical individuals who grew up in the same environment, which enabled us to begin to analyze the influence of genetic and environmental factors.”

After a discussion at a research conference, Nagler and her colleague in Stanford, Dr. med. Kari Nadeau to work together on the project. Nadeau, the director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research, had conducted a study on the epigenetics of food allergies and had already collected stool samples from study participants. Nagler’s laboratory performed the sequencing on the samples taken from 13 pairs of twins with and without food allergies and another five pairs of twins in which both twins had at least one food allergy.

The research team examined which microbes were present in the stool samples as well as which metabolic products (so-called metabolites) that come not only from the microbes, but also from host and food sources.

“We urgently need biomarkers to understand the immunoregulatory function of intestinal bacteria,” said Nagler. “Metabolites give us clues about what bacteria do mechanistically to regulate the immune response.”

This approach identified 64 different sets of bacterial species and metabolites that distinguish the healthy and allergic twin groups. Most of these variable abundance bacteria belonged to the Clostridia class, which several previous reports from the Nagler laboratory showed to protect against food allergies. The accumulation of allergy-protecting bacteria in the healthy twins, which was presumably detected in early life, persisted into adulthood despite separation and lifestyle changes. In addition, healthy twins showed an enrichment of the diacylglycerol metabolic pathway and two specific bacteria: Phascolarctobacterium faecium and Ruminococccus bromii.

“To narrow down the thousands of bacteria in specific species as candidates for future therapeutic interventions, one dimension of data is not enough – merging data from multiple dimensions is key,” said lead author Riyue Bao, PhD, now Research Associate of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “In our study, we took advantage of both high throughput microbiome sequencing and metabolic profiling techniques and were able to nominate two specific species, each involved in different metabolic pathways, that can be prioritized as potential targets for future research and therapeutic interventions in food allergies. ”

“Lots of people will go to Google and want to know, ‘Should I eat yogurt? Should I not eat yogurt? Does my microbiome play a role in my disease? “Said Nadeau. “This research is important as one of the most important building blocks for the knowledge of the human microbiome that must be established to answer these questions. We cannot yet say that this is a cause and effect relationship, but we can say that there is a relationship with illness and health. Now we can ask ourselves what that means. “

While the study only included a small group of participants, the researchers are excited about the results and their application to future projects.

Future research will examine the specific roles of these bacteria in food allergies. For example, R. bromii is a key species in breaking down resistant starch – diet starch that normally escapes digestion. Nagler plans to investigate how a resistant starch supplement can affect the presence of R. bromii in the fecal microbiome and whether or not this can increase the response to oral immunotherapy, the only treatment currently available for food allergies.

The study “Faecal Microbiome and Metabolome Differ in Healthy and Food Allergic Twins” was supported by the Sunshine Charitable Foundation, the Moss Family Foundation, NIAID (R56AI134923, R01AI140134) and NHLBI (R01HL118162). Other authors include Riyue Bao from the University of Chicago (now at the Medical Center of the University of Pittsburgh), Lauren A. Hesser from UChicago, and Ziyuan He and Xiaoying Zhou from Stanford University.


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The University of Chicago Medicine, with a history dating back to 1927, is one of the leading academic health systems in the country. It brings together the missions of the University of Chicago Medical Center, the Pritzker School of Medicine, and the Department of Life Sciences. Twelve Nobel Prize winners in Physiology or Medicine are affiliated with the University of Chicago Medicine. The main Hyde Park campus houses the Center for Care and Discovery, Bernard Mitchell Hospital, Comer Children’s Hospital, and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine. It also has outpatient facilities in Orland Park, South Loop, and River East, as well as partnerships and partnerships that form a regional supply network. UChicago Medicine offers a full range of specialty treatment services for adults and children in more than 40 institutes and centers, including an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Together with the Ingalls Memorial in Harvey, UChicago Medicine has 1,296 licensed beds, nearly 1,300 attending physicians, over 2,800 nurses, and approximately 970 residents and fellows.

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