A research team led by Katharina Brandl at the Sloan-Kettering Institute treated mice with antibiotics, and found that levels of Reg3g, a protein made by "friendly" bacteria that kill the gut bacterium vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), dropped by 80 per cent.
The researchers said that the study indicated that a lack of Reg3g was partly to blame for the VRE increase that follows antibiotic treatment, reports New Scientist magazine.
Moving a step further, the researchers gave the mice doses of lipopolysaccharide along with antibiotics to see whether boosting Reg3g levels could help.
LPS is a molecule found on the surface of some bacteria that stimulates the gut to make Reg3g, according to background information in a research article in Nature magazine.
The researchers observed that the mice ended up with higher levels of Reg3g than the animals that just took antibiotics.
The researchers said that LPS-antibiotics combo receiving mice also had fewer VRE colonies, about the same number as mice that had taken no antibiotics.
Based on their observations, the researchers came to the conclusion that administering LPS orally to people taking antibiotics might be beneficial.