Researchers find E. coli hormone reduces inflammation

Jesse Roth, MD, FACP, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Professor Jesse Roth, MD, FACP, and his colleagues recently discovered that the E. coli bacteria found in our intestines are communicating with cells throughout our bodies to reduce inflammation. These findings, published in Nature npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, could lead to new therapies for treating conditions associated with excessive inflammation such as sepsis and colitis.

Our bodies house thousands of bacteria and other microorganisms, most of which live with us in harmony, not causing any illness or discomfort. In this study, Dr. Roth and his colleagues – including Associate Professor Huan Yang, MD, PhD; Research Associate Syed Faizan Mehdi, MD; and Research Scientist Xiaoling Qiang, MD, PhD – attempted to answer how tiny deposits of microbes under our skin or in other sites like blood, brain, lung, kidney and heart can cause serious anti-bacterial responses by our own immune system while many denser deposits of microbes in the intestine are hardly noticed by the body’s defense systems.

“We have been able to demonstrate that one of the intestinal bacteria, E. coli, actively release hormone-like peptides or amino acids that are anti-inflammatory, calming the body’s white cells and other defenders,” said Dr. Roth. “These bacteria-derived peptides have many structural and biological similarities to hormones produced by the intestine. If we are able to further understand these interactions, it may provide hope for thousands of patients in whom inflammation of the intestine is poorly controlled and need medical assistance.”  

Feinstein Institute investigators suspect that some patients who suffer from poorly-controlled inflammatory diseases of the intestine could be helped by recolonizing their intestines with harmonious bacteria that can produce hormone-like peptides that can calm the inflammatory processes. They plan to continue to profile microorganisms in the intestine and map how they’re signaling the body, which could potentially lead to new therapies for many conditions.

To view the full paper published in November by Nature npj Biofilms and Microbiomes click here.

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The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York. Home to 50 research laboratories and to clinical research throughout dozens of hospitals and outpatient facilities, the Feinstein Institute includes 4,000  researchers and staff who are making breakthroughs in molecular medicine, genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine. For more information about how we empower imagination and pioneer discovery, visit FeinsteinInstitute.org

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