OCT 17, 2016 | NICOLA M. PARRY, BVSC, MRCVS, MSC, DIPACVP

Recent studies published in Science Immunology and Science have shown how a commensal intestinal bacterium produces an enzyme that can help protect against pathogenic bacteria. 

“In our studies, we characterize both epithelial and commensal microbial contributions to a protective mechanism in the mammalian intestine that reduces early pathogen invasion and tissue damage,” write Virginia Pedicord, PhD, from Rockefeller University, New York, New York. “Our results suggest that the commensal bacterium [Enterococcus] faecium triggers enhanced epithelial barrier function and pathogen tolerance through its expression of a unique secreted peptidoglycan hydrolase, SagA [secreted antigen A].” 

The microbiome plays an important role in human health, and changes in its composition can help to promote either resistance to, or infection by, pathogenic bacteria. However, the specific factors in modulating host susceptibility to infection, as well as the mechanisms involved, have remained poorly understood. Researchers from Rockefeller University therefore conducted experiments to study the probiotic potential of the bacterium Enterococcus faecium, using Caenorhabditis elegansworms and mice infected with Salmonella bacteria.

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