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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stress Affects GI Bacteria and Immunity

A new study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity sheds some light on the connections between stress, gastrointestional bacteria and immunity.

Researchers at Ohio State University found that stress changed the composition of gastrointestinal bacteria, leading to less diverse flora, fewer protective bacteria, and more pathogenic microorganisms (those that cause disease) including Clostridium bacteria.

They also measured an inflammatory marker called interleukin-6 (IL6) and a protein that helps attract white blood cells to areas of injury and infection called monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP1). Stress elevated levels of IL6 and MCP1, suggesting that gastrointestinal bacteria play an important role in inflammation and immunity.

Other studies have linked GI bacteria and MCP1 to inflammatory and autoimmune conditions like asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Reference:

Bailey MT et al. Exposure to a social stressor alters the structure of the intestinal microbiota: implications for stressor-induced immunomodulation. Brain Behavior and Immunity. 2011 Mar; 25(3):397-407.

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