I first read Buffington et al. and immediately loved the paper. I worked with autistic children during my first co-op and had exposure to many families that all had different views on what they believe contribute to autism (including factors that influence the gut microbiome; i.e. gluten). This paper definitely has me convinced that the composition of the gut microbiome does have a role in health and behavior. One component that I struggled with was the way that the microbiome clustering was portrayed - it seemed like this could have been a more simplistic bar graph type presentation but I'm not sure if that is also personal misinterpretation. I don't know much about the gut microbiome so I don't know whether mice and humans have the same bacteria but either way it seems that results of this paper have critical implications for human studies. I might not be thinking about this right but if determining bacteria composition is as easy as analyzing fecal matter; children of mothers with high fat diet tendencies could have their feces screened and receive probiotics during development in order to improve bacterial diversity and potentially prevent social deficits.
Reber et al. was another good paper, though with the amount of times I've reread it this week I've found myself critiquing more and more components. While I like that the authors tested a wide range of ways the M. vaccae influences CSC-induced health and behavioral deficits, the inclusion of both makes me feel that this is just a foundation paper that is laying the groundwork for more in-depth future studies. I definitely got a little lost in the cytokine figures at first and didn't feel as though this section was sufficiently explained, especially the ratio component. Overall I think that the results of this paper also have some pretty big implications in terms of chronic/repeated stress. I also think that the briefly mentioned hygiene hypothesis has a decent amount of validity - there has been a steady increase in allergies and autoimmune disorders as medicine has "advanced" us and as everyone tries to medicate every cold and infection away. I think that our immune systems are much weaker and less resilient due to the way society has us handle everything and that the study of the gut microbiome will be important for the world to realize the role that we are playing in this ourselves.