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Antibiotics, the 'avoidable trigger' for bowel disease

Thursday October 25th, 2018

A high fibre diet should be followed when taking antibiotics because the drugs can predispose the gut to avoidable infections that trigger bowel disease in mice.

Researchers at the University of Manchester, England, tested a broad range of antibiotics on mice to assess their impact on the gut’s microbiota.

They found that after a week’s course of antibiotics, a harmful immune reaction started that lasted at least two months. The equivalent in humans would be “many years”, they say.

Writing in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers, led by Dr Elizabeth Mann, reveal that significantly fewer beneficial bacteria that make short chain fatty acids grew back.

However, short chain fatty acids, produced by the fermentation of dietary fibre by the microorganisms that live in the gut, could prevent the harmful immune response.

Dr Mann, of the university’s Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation, said: “Epidemiological evidence already links antibiotics given to babies and young children, when the immune system is still developing, to inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, psoriasis and other inflammatory diseases later in life.

“However, until now it has been hard to determine cause and effect, especially with the time lag between taking the antibiotics and the development of disease later in life. This study helps explain the link through understanding the biological processes involved.”

She said that not all patients who are prescribed antibiotics will get these diseases because most people need a genetic predisposition.

“It’s very important that patients continue their antibiotics as these drugs are critical in clearing bacterial infections that can persist and cause serious health problems if left untreated,” explained Dr Mann.

“But what we’re saying is that antibiotics must only prescribed when absolutely needed for bacterial infections.”

Antibiotics induce sustained dysregulation of intestinal T cell immunity by perturbing macrophage homeostasis. Science Translational Medicine 24 October 2018

Tags: Gastroenterology | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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