Ok, I personally love the brain-gut axis so I was super excited about this week’s papers. The Buffington paper was awesome; it was such an easy and interesting read. It just blows my mind that diet can have such a huge impact on the gut micro biome, and that that can then affect neurodevelopment is just so cool. I felt like this paper covered all of its bases. I liked that they added the experiment with the germ-free mice, just to show that they too had the same behavioral deficits. It was also really interesting to see that the germ-free mice’s behavior could only be rescued when they received fecal microbiota at 4 weeks during weaning. If we compared that to human time, I wonder whether this means an intervention would be necessary shortly after birth, or once breast-feeding ceases? Either way, perhaps in the future, baby’s micro biome can be screened and then they can be reconstituted as a preventative measure. Perhaps fecal transplant pills will be the new vaccines! But in all seriousness, I think this area of research is fascinating and has so many implications for the future. What I feel is really powerful too is that it allows the individual to take some power over their health. Sometimes it feels like people don’t really think eating unhealthy is that bad, as long as you don’t gain weight. With this kind of research, we can promote healthy eating as important not just for looks, but for overall health as well. Anyways, another part I found interesting was the fact that the L. reuteri reconstitution could ameliorate social deficits but not repetitive, perseverative, or anxious behaviors. It’s pretty amazing to think that one specific type of bacteria would have such a specific effect on the body (via oxytocin upregulation). I am curious how these bacteria actually elicit these changes, and whether it involves the vagus nerve like the authors proposed. Maybe in the future, we can identify bacteria to combat specific deficiencies and use them as therapeutics.
The Reber paper was also very interesting, but I did find it more difficult to read. The effects of the micro biome on stress are super interesting. However, throughout this paper I was wondering how the researchers came to choose specifically M. vaccae as their immunoregulatory bacteria, and why it needed to be heat-killed? The authors mentioned that heat-killed immunoregulatory bacteria have advantages of long-term duration of anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory effects, but why wouldn’t non heat-killed bacteria have the same effects? In the last paper, they saw no benefits when using heat-killed bacteria, so I was wondering how these mechanisms are different. If the bacteria is heat-killed, it won’t survive in the gut, and so how will it affect the micro biome? Other than these questions I don’t really have any complaints about Reber. It was definitely a convincing paper, and just goes to show how much more research needs to be done on the effects of stress and how we can combat them.