The Human Microbiome: Why Scientists Are Searching Your Gut for Cures

It’s been called the “forgotten organ,” a “scientific frontier,” and even the “second brain,” yet scientists say we have barely scratched the surface on understanding the role of this living, breathing, highly complex ecosystem in shaping human health. Here’s an up-close look at what we know so far…

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The Human Microbiome is a Treasure Trove Waiting to be Unlocked

Understanding the complexity of the human microbiome may help unlock mysteries behind health and psychological illnesses.

Bacteria are at the center of all life forms on planet earth and are the essential building blocks that make living organisms the way they are.

Both the mitochondrion — found in most organisms, which generates energy in the cell — and the chloroplast — the solar energy-harvester located in plants — can be traced to their bacterial ancestors. These specialized microbes laid the foundation for the biodiversity we live amongst.

Microbes are a part of all multicellular organisms, where they perform a myriad of functions essential to life, including the digestion of nutrients and signaling processes. The microbes that are an integral component of living organisms are referred to as the microbiome. The microbiome is found in creatures as simple as the hydra and as complex as humans, elephants, and trees.

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The Gut-Brain Connection

Duke University researcher Diego Bohorquez and colleagues have identified the neural circuitry that connects the gut with the brain. This pathway is spanned by a single synapse, capable of relaying a signal from gut to brain in 100 milliseconds. This newly discovered pathway is probably exploited by pathogens, and will almost certainly lead to new therapies…

 

The mitochondrial-derived peptide MOTS-c is a regulator of plasma metabolites and enhances insulin sensitivity

MOTS-c is an exercise mimetic and improves insulin sensitivity in aged and diet-induced obese mice. Although plasma markers are good markers for the metabolic condition, whether MOTS-c changes plasma markers in diet-induced obese mice has not been examined. Here, we used an unbiased metabolomics approach to examine the effect of MOTS-c on plasma markers of metabolic dysfunction…

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Mind-altering microbes: how the microbiome affects brain and behavior: Elaine Hsiao at TEDxCaltech

Elaine Hsiao is a postdoctoral fellow in chemistry and biology at Caltech. She received her undergraduate degree in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics from UCLA and her doctoral degree in neurobiology from Caltech with Professor Paul Patterson. She studied neuroimmune mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders and uncovered a role for the commensal microbiota in regulating autism-related behaviors, metabolism, and intestinal physiology…