A new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis finds that a gut microbe can prevent severe flu infections. According to reports, the new study which was conducted on mice finds that a certain gut microbe possesses some qualities that could prevent flu infections. It is reported that the gut microbe works by breaking down naturally occurring compounds known as flavonoids, which is mostly found in food like red wine, black tea, and blueberries.
Influenza is a common health condition characterized by aches, fever, and cough. It is also seen as deadly viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, and an average of 113 children lost their lives as a result of influenza every year in the United States according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is common in pregnant women, older adults, young children and persons suffering from chronic health problems like asthma and heart disease.
According to a recent report by science daily, Microbes found in the gut do not only digest food, they also have a huge impact on the immune system. The findings of the new study now suggest that gut microbe can be used to treat severe flu infections in mice. As already mentioned above, the findings of the study, which was conducted on mice also indicates that the strategy could help in preventing the severe damage caused by flu.
This is possible when the interaction occurs before the infection with the influenza virus. It is also believed that the findings of the new study will further give a better explanation of the wide variation in human responses to influenza infection.
“For years, flavonoids have been thought to have protective properties that help regulate the immune system to fight infections. Flavonoids are common in our diets, so an important implication of our study is that it’s possible flavonoids work with gut microbes to protect us from flu and other viral infections,” first author of the study and an instructor in pediatrics who treats intensive care patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Ashley L. Steed, MD, Ph.D., said.
It is reported that although previous studies on the topic have found that the gut microbiome could be crucial in preventing severe influenza infections, the researchers involved in the new study aimed at identifying which particular gut microbe could offer such protection. While conducting the study, the authors screened human gut microbes in search of the one that metabolizes flavonoids and found one suspected to have the potentials to might protect against flu damage.
The researchers stated that microbe known as Clostridium OrbisCindens works by degrading flavonoids in order to produce a metabolite that boosts interferon signaling. They administered the metabolite called Desaminotyrosine (DAT) to mice and infected them with influenza. The researchers found that the mice experienced a significantly less lung damage compared to mice not treated with DAT, according to Medical Express.
Furthermore, they found that even though the lungs of mice treated with DAT had less flu damage, their levels of viral infection was similar to those of mice that did not get the treatment. However, the DAT prevented the immune system from damaging the lung tissue. The researchers published their findings on August 4 in the journal Science.