Microbes block food from seeping into bloodstream, mouse study shows
A.T. Stefka et al/PNAS 2014
Peanuts can drive people’s immune systems nuts, but gut microbes could offer some protection. Mice harboring Clostridia bacteria in their guts are less sensitive to the notoriously allergenic legumes than mice without the microbes, researchers report August 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For years scientists have suspected that some gut bacteria curb food allergies, and that killing these good guys could bring trouble. But no one knew which microbes helped or how exactly they worked.
Cathryn Nagler of the University of Chicago and colleagues treated some mice with antibiotics to wipe out the animals’ gut bacteria, and then triggered an allergy-like response to peanut particles. Peanuts revved up the germ-free animals’ immune systems — but mice with normal gut bacteria didn’t have the bad reaction.
Giving germ-free mice a dose