Gut bugs to lungs' rescue

Commensal microbes in the gut may help combat the flu virus in the lungs

Megan Scudellari
The commensal bacteria of the gut, essential for digestion and the overall well-being of the intestines, also play a critical role in mounting an immune response to the flu virus in the lungs.
linkurl:Wikimedia Commons, Patrick J. Lynch;
The results, linkurl:published today; (March 14) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that antibiotic use could impair a person's ability to combat the seasonal virus. "This work is in line with an emergence of research about how much commensal [bacteria] affect not only the metabolism of a host, but also the immunity," said linkurl:Yasmine Belkaid,; chief of the Mucosal Immunology Section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "It's a very informative study."A team at the Yale University School of Medicine treated mice with combinations of antibiotics, then challenged them with the influenza virus. The animals exhibited a significantly impaired immune response, including reduced levels of...
Ichinohe, T., et al., "Microbiota regulates immune defense against respiratory tract influenza A virus infection," PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1019378108.

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