Previous research has shown that the normal intestinal microbiota may be decimated by taking too many antibiotics.
Now researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, and Centro Superior de Investigación en Salud Pública, Valencia, Spain, show that reintroducing normal microbial diversity largely eliminated vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) from the intestinal tracts of mice. The investigators showed further that the findings may apply to humans. The research is published in the March 2013 issue of the journal Infection and Immunity.
The reduced diversity of microbiota wrought by antibiotics "allow[s] VRE to invade and thrive in the intestine, suggesting that bacterial species that are wiped out by antibiotics are key to preventing colonization by VRE," says first author Carles Ubeda of the Centro Superior de Investigacion en Salud Publica, Valencia, Spain. "We hypothesized that repopulating the mice' intestines with the missing bacteria would promote clearance of the VRE."
The researchers then analyzed the fecal microbiota from human patients who had received bone marrow transplants, who were at high risk of being colonized by vancomycin-resistant enterococci. "The presence of Barnesiella in fecal samples was associated with protection against VRE, suggesting that in humans, Barnesiella may also confer protection against dense VRE colonization," says Ubeda.
"The findings could be very useful for development of novel probiotics," says Ubeda. Additionally, "scientifically, this is a major finding that will help us to understand how the microbiota confer resistance against intestinal colonization by pathogens, an important question that remains incompletely answered."