Researchers produce the first draft cell atlas of the small intestine

(Courtesy of Broad Communications)

By surveying gene expression in over 53,000 cells from the small intestine, researchers have created a rich reference for understanding the biology of inflammatory bowel disease and food allergies, among other conditions.

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Oral bacteria in the gut associated with inflammatory bowel disease

Bacteria living in the mouth are ingested with saliva, but normally do not persist in healthy intestine. In several disease states—inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), HIV infection, liver cirrhosis, colon cancer—orally-derived bacteria are found living in patients’ guts, leading researchers to hypothesize that oral bacteria colonizing the gut contribute to disease.

Collaborating with researchers in Japan, Dr. Ramnik Xavier and his laboratory at MGH recently published a study in Science demonstrating that certain strains of antibiotic-resistant oral bacteria colonize the gut and drive inflammation in genetically susceptible hosts. These bacteria were significantly more abundant in the guts of IBD and Crohn’s disease patients than of healthy individuals.

These findings highlight the disease potential of bacterial strains in susceptible hosts and the need to better understand the relationships between human hosts, their genomes, and resident bacterial communities.

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