We are microbes

We are microbes

We depend on the bacteria to our proper development and maintenance of health. Today marks the world day of the Microbiome first

This Wednesday, June 27, held for the first time theDay of the Microbiome(#WorldMicrobiomeDay) under the slogan "think in your"microbes“.

While for centuries, it was known that animals - including humans - they were carriers of many micro-organisms, just attention was paid. Until, as in recent years and thanks to the newmassive sequencing techniquesThey allow us to study the microbial communities without the need to cultivate them, have shown that in reality we depend on them for our proper development and maintenance of health.

We could define the microbiota as the set of microorganisms (bacteria, Archaea, viruses, fungi, and protists) who reside in our body. It is sometimes confused with the termMicrobiomewhich is much broader and refers to the set of these microbial communities, including its genes and the chemicals that produce, as well as the environmental conditions surrounding them. These microbial ecosystems are the gastrointestinal, respiratory and Genitourinary tract, oral and nasopharyngeal cavity, and skin.

For a long time it was thought that 90% of our cells were bacteria. The last estimates, on the other hand, put this percentage by 50%. It may seem little, but holding the same amount of bacteria that human cell is like to say that we are "half human, half bacterium". The human being, therefore, is not a separate unit, but adynamic and interactive community of human and microbial cells. A kind of "superorganism".

Also in recent decades, we have confirmed that the diversity of microbes in our bodies is enormous, and that the composition is different in each person, with many factors that influence its evolution. It is estimated that more than 10,000 different bacterial species, of which less than 1% would correspond to potential pathogens live in a healthy body. Generally speaking, microbial communities are composed of some bacterial types (very few) very abundant and frequent, along with many bacteria represented in small numbers but different.

In addition, the set of germs of our body evolves over life. As we will grow our microbiota is changing: while that babies set is fairly uniform - but its microbial diversity is low, very unstable and susceptible to the changes--as children grow their micro-organisms mature and are they diversify, until reaching adulthood. Then the microbiota becomes increasingly diverse, stable and difficult to change. In the third age, finally, decreases the number of microbial species and the set is similar between individuals. However, the species that we have (and the number of them) not only change with age, they are influenced as we are male or female, by our genetics, the type of diet, climate and geographical location; as well as by exposure to drugs, treatments with antibiotics, the occupation or interaction with other individuals.

The analysis of the microbiota: a paradigm shift in personalized medicine

The two fields where there is greater evidence of the role of the microbiota would be theNutritionand theImmunology. On the one hand, the intestinal microbes degrade bile salts, proteins and polysaccharides, with the aim of producing vitamins and other co-factors that is essential for our health. At the same time, stimulate and activate our natural defenses, keep the intestinal barrier and prevent the colonization of pathogenic microorganisms. Also increase the evidence (although most preliminary studies) that relate the microbiota with different diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic diseases, allergies, asthma and diseases of the central nervous system) depression, autism) or (Alzheimer, Parkinson, multiple sclerosis), neurodegenerative or even cancer.

Thus, it seems clear that in the near future analysis of the Human Microbiome will be incorporated into the protocols of thepersonalized medicine's precision. The result will be a treatment for each person based on the data of the genome, metabolism, your immune system and also their Microbiome. From the composition of the microbiota may identifyopportunistic microorganismspotentially pathogenic, possible shortcomings and even its interaction with the proposed treatment. While this advance comes, I recommend you to think (and much) in your microbes, because of its good condition will depend on yours.

Ignacio Lopez-Goñi(@microbioblog) is Professor of Microbiology at the University of Navarra and author ofMicrobiota: germs from your body(Editorial Almuzara).

Source: elpais.com