AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Author: abbyogenesis

Exposure to Certain Bacteria Can Lead to the Development of Celiac Disease

In a study published by the Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, researchers have found that bacterial exposure is a potential environmental risk factor, leading to the development of Celiac Disease. Scientists believe that this discovery can lead to diagnostic or therapeutic approaches to the illness.  

Celiac Disease affects about one in 40 Australians and about half are born with about one of two genes that cause the disease. People suffering from Celiac Disease must follow a strict non-gluten diet, as any amount of gluten can trigger health problems. Scientists have known for a while that environmental factors trigger Celiac Disease, alongside the genetic predispositions, but were unaware of exactly what the environmental causes was.

To conduct the study, researchers showed how, at a molecular level, receptors that were isolated from immune T from Celiac Disease recognized pieces of protein from certain bacteria that mimic gluten. The results showed that exposure to such bacteria may play a role in the recognition of gluten by the same T cells when individuals with a predisposition eat any amount of gluten. Thus, the individual’s immune system reacts to the bacteria molecules and, in doing so, develops a reaction to gluten molecules because to the immune system the molecules are identical. 

With these results researchers have now linked microbial exposure as a possible environmental risk factor for Celiac Disease through a molecular foundation. 

The results of this study is extremely important as it can lead to new search in Celiac Disease and possibly new methods of prevention!

Babies Born via C-Sections Have Different Gut Microbiota

A study reported to the Journal Nature, found evidence that infants born by C-sections have different microbiota than babies born vaginally. The study found that method of delivery plays a factor in which bacteroids colonizes the intestines of infants immediately after birth. 

The study was conducted in the United Kingdom. Researchers took stool samples from 596 babies in total– 282 born via cesarean section and 314 born vaginally. Scientist took samples four, seven and 21 days after birth and samples a couple of months later after birth. They also took stool samples from 175 mothers took help determine the origin of the gut microbiota. 

Research found that babies born through cesarean section have less “good” bacteria from their mothers and more bacteria from the environment in which they are born. The infants born by c-sections contained pathogens such as enterococcus, enterobacter and klebsiella, which have been found in hospitals. Via natural birth, infants’ intestines contained gut microbiota from their mother as well as the environment in which they were born. Later on in infancy, researchers found that babies born by c-sections showed more similar gut microorganisms as their naturally-birthed counterparts. 

Scientists found that in the gut microbiota found in infants born via c-section, some pathogens contained antimicrobial resistance and bacterial virulence factors. This could potentially make infants born by cesarean sections more susceptible to infections and weaken their immune systems. 

Researchers concluded that the environment in which babies are born factor into how gut microbiota will be composed from birth to infancy. But it still remains unclear if the initial difference in gut microbiota will have any health effects later on in life. 

Regardless of this study, c-sections are still important to the health of millions of babies and mothers worldwide. In no way should this study discourage women from having c-sections; especially, if they are a necessity. Caesarean sections have saved millions of lives and will continue to do so.

Can Too Much Sitting Affect The Shape Of Your Heart?

A new research article shows that the heart, besides humans’ joints and tendons, is also optimized for endurance. But, this depends on how active the person is. To conduct this study, scientist gathered 160 adult males from four different groups: football linemen, long-distance runners, inactive adults, and Native American farmers celebrated for their running ability, known as the Tarahumara. Scientist also looked at the hearts of 43 adult male chimpanzees for comparison. 

To examine the heart of these groups, scientist used an ultrasound. When examining the hearts of the four groups, researchers reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that there were noticeable differences in the left ventricle-the thickest of the heart’s four chambers-where blood is pumped. The long-distance runners and Tarahumara farmers had long ventricles with thin walls. This helps to pump large volumes of blood for a long period of time. The inactive adults and the football linemen, who are trained for short, high-intensity exercise, had wider ventricles with thick walls. The same shape was found in the chimpanzees who participate in short, high-intensity exercises like climbing and fighting. They had the shortest and thickest ventricles. 

The wider ventricles and thick walls are beneficial to the chimps and football linemen because during high-intensity workouts when blood pressure in the arteries surge for a short amount of time, it ensures that enough blood is flowing to the brain to keep consciousness. 

The long-distance runners and the Tarahumara farmers are less likely to experience problems like high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases because of their heart shape.

Fortunately, People’s heart shape is not permanent! Scientists suggest that changes in the heart shape is possible with endurance activities like swimming and running over the course of many years. 

So stop procrastinating and go for that run!

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