A recent article in Medical Life Science News reports that a recent study has discovered a new mechanism that interacts with an immune cell receptor called Mincle. This receptor regulates and strengthens the intestinal barrier through the interaction of the immune cells and a group of Lactobacillus bacteria.
A normal immune response to microorganisms that live in the human gut (microbiota) ensures that they are contained. However, when the intestinal immune barrier is damaged, gut bacteria spreads and causes acute and chronic inflammation.
About the Study
One focus of the study was treating inflammatory bowel diseases such like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In both of these diseases, the intestinal wall becomes permeable, allowing bacteria to move to other organs. This causes inflammation in those areas.
The study, which was published in Immunity, was conducted with Mincle-deficient mice or mice that were deficient in one of the proteins involved in intracellular signaling.
Signaling identifies the process through which Lactobacillus and other beneficial organisms strengthen the intestinal bacteria while preventing inflammation.
These intestinal bacteria contain molecules that bind to the receptor Mincle which strengthens the intestinal barrier and restricts commensal intestinal bacteria (Gut microbiota) so that they remain in the intestine. There are areas of the small intestine called Peyer’s patches, where a beneficial interaction occurs between Mincle and Lactobacillus bacteria.
Reduction Causes a Weakened Barrier
A Mincle deficiency, however, results in the inability to create the lymphocytes that are necessary for the regulation of the function of the immune barrier in the intestine. This leads to autoimmune and metabolic diseases.
Researchers believe that this new mechanism has the potential of treating diseases involving the spread of commensal bacteria (part of the normal flora) outside the gut.
In addition to the potential of using beneficial probiotic microbes or prebiotics (nutrients that stimulate beneficial microorganisms), there is also the promise of using synthetic therapies that can bind to Mincle.
Additional studies are necessary to learn more about the mechanisms that contribute to the maintenance of the intestinal barrier that restricts the localization of gut bacteria and holds them in a beneficial environment.