By: Anika Buch
When we eat yogurt, we rarely look at the ingredients label. If we did, we would notice that there are numerous active “good” bacteria referred to as probiotics in yogurt. Probiotics are known to mediate inflammation, though the signaling pathways by which this is done are not yet fully understood, mainly because there are trillions of bacteria in the human gut, which compose the human gut microbiome (gut bacteria). These trillions of other species make it difficult to pinpoint the effects of only one probiotic strain. For this reason, in this study, germ-free mice were used. Germ-free mice have been depleted of all bacteria, so the effects of one deliberately introduced strain of bacteria can be examined. The 8-week old germ-free mice in this study were gavaged for 9 weeks with a probiotic strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), and PBS, a saline solution, which served as a control. Tissue samples were collected from the proximal small intestine, distal small intestine, and colon. Most notably, LGG significantly decreased the expression of TiParp and Muc2, which are involved in antimicrobial defense and mucus production, respectively. These results demonstrate that LGG as a probiotic strain to directly targets gut inflammation at its genetic source. The germ-free mice offered an insightful opportunity to understand and examine the genetic effects of the deliberately introduced species of LGG on the intestinal mucosa (mucus lining).
This research was conducted as a part of the Partners in Science Research Program. To read more, click here for a full pdf of Anika's formal research paper about her project!