Stomach Bacteria Besties: Immune Cells and Microbes Communicate!

A fascinating scientific observation recently exposed just how complex our gut health is. Through microbiome testing, scientists discovered that stomach bacteria actually communicate with immune cells to help protect beneficial microbes. This breakthrough further exemplifies the importance of gut health and microbiome testing. Let’s take a look at this discovery and what it means for the future of wellness.

Gut Health and Immune Connection

Up until the moment we breathe our first breath on the earth, stomach bacteria are the only introduction to living beings that we have. After a sperm fertilizes a mother’s egg, that mother’s cells begin rushing to her womb.

The first thing they create? Our immune system.

baby and adult
Passin’ on germs

Studies suggest the mother’s body provides a child with as much stomach bacteria possible to prepare the little one for the outside world [1].

The immune system of a child is further developed if it’s brought into this world through a vaginal delivery [2]. Vaginal delivery further strengthens a child’s immune response before such a drastic change in scenery. This method exposes the child to new bacteria not in your gut flora. If a chlid is delivered via C-section, then it is removed from the same stomach bacteria it’s already known.

Lastly, research indicates probiotics in breast milk may help increase the immune system of a newborn. That’s because the child is still getting acquainted with its new quarters. Breast milk is a way of weaning the child from mother to world.

This strong relationship between the immune system and microbiome follows us through the rest of our existence. Research indicates 70% of our immune cells derive from our gastrointestinal tract [3]. So, treat your gut health well and your immune system should follow!

Stomach Bacteria and Immune Cells

While we knew stomach bacteria had a significant influence on immune cells, we didn’t realize how deep-rooted it was…literally. Recently, Science Magazine examined filamentous microbes [4].

These are microbes that don’t divide. However, they elongate. This is important because a part of that elongation process is latching onto your gastrointestinal wall…with hooks!

Our gut lining is made of epithelial cells. They are woven tightly together. However, there is a bit of space in between to allow nutrients to seep from the intestines to the bloodstream. Destruction of this gap is also the cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome. However, these gaps also make it possible for stomach bacteria to stick their hooks in.

Scientists for Science (by the seashore) took microscopic 3-D images of approximately 200 microbes. They found that these microbes hooked onto the cells. At the end of these hooks were little bubbles. The scientists then noticed that inside of these tiny bubbles were antigens.

What Does Stomach Bacteria Say to Immune Cells?

Immune cells to the rescue

When a bacteria releases an antigen, this sets off an immune response. Immediately, T Cells and NK cells come to take care of the situation. However, scientists noticed that the immune cells didn’t destroy this gut flora. They came to the area, scoped out the situation, and then went about their business.

Immunologist Ivaylo Ivanov noted,


“We’re maybe looking at some new biology, perhaps a new way of communicating. I was not expecting to identify a new type of interaction.”

Quote Via:
Science News

After witnessing the interaction between stomach bacteria and immune cells, the scientists concluded that antigens contain communication signals. Based on the signal, the immune cells know not to attack.

This phenomenon further explains why immune cells know which stomach bacteria is an opportunistic intruder and which is actually probiotic bacteria.

Connection Between Stomach Bacteria and Host

Hosts are great for every party. They show people where to get food and which way is the bathroom. The same can be said for your microbiome.

Our gastrointestinal tract plays host to stomach bacteria. This bacteria will do anything to stay there, including sending messages to the immune system.

Luckily for us, most of these bacteria are beneficial for gut health. However, there are opportunistic bacteria that will go do anything to survive. This includes taking advantage of the unique relationship between stomach bacteria and immune cells.

hospital setting
Breeding ground for infection

One study analyzed a common hospital-based bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa [5]. Pseudomonas aeruginosa enjoys hospital settings because they infect people through open wounds. That is why Pseudomonas aeruginosa is responsible for 10% of all hospital-borne infections.

This tricky bacterium is known to resist antibiotics. Furthermore, it becomes infected with the virus, phage. Phages can be used for therapy, as they tend to kill their bacterial hosts.

This isn’t so with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The twosome have a symbiotic relationship.

By becoming infected with phage, the bacterium becomes safe from the immune system. Like a sacrificial lamb, the phage gets eaten, allowing the bacterium to remain in the system.

How Phages Trick the Immune System

Research indicates the phages actually mimic human viruses. They do this by creating a double-stranded RNA sequence. This phenomenon throws off immune cells.

After witnessing phage in action, scientists drew a line back to the stomach bacteria that produces antigens around the stomach lining. There is such a sophisticated line of communication going on inside of our microbiome that we are blissfully (or ignorantly) unaware of every day.

How to Strengthen Your Immune System with Stomach Bacteria

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal issues or have stomach problems, there’s a good chance you suffer from allergies or other illnesses often. That’s because the gut-immune axis has a strong link.

To improve the health of your immune system, you must improve the health of your stomach bacteria. Achieve this with microbiome testing.

At Thryve, we have a gut health test kit that pinpoints which stomach bacteria you already have. From there, we formulate personalized probiotics rich with beneficial bacteria your system may be lacking.

After you join the Thryve Gut Health Program, we work on a healing gut diet plan for you. If you are looking to boost your immune response, we will work hand-in-hand with you to make sure you get the correct foods in your healthy gut diet plan.

Thryve Probiotics Gut Health

Resources

[1] Walker, R W, et al. “The Prenatal Gut Microbiome: Are We Colonized with Bacteria in Utero?” Pediatric Obesity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28447406.

[2] Neu, J., & Rushing, J. (2011). Cesarean versus vaginal delivery: long-term infant outcomes and the hygiene hypothesis. Clinics in perinatology38(2), 321–331. doi:10.1016/j.clp.2011.03.008

[3] Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., & Frati, F. (2008). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical and experimental immunology153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), 3–6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x

[4] Ladinsky, Mark S., et al. “Endocytosis of Commensal Antigens by Intestinal Epithelial Cells Regulates Mucosal T Cell Homeostasis.” Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 8 Mar. 2019, science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6431/eaat4042.

[5] Reardon, Sara. “Virus Tricks the Immune System into Ignoring Bacterial Infections.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 28 Mar. 2019, www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00991-4.