Gut Microbium: An Introduction
The human body’s largest microorganism population resides in the intestine and is collectively called the gut microbiota/microbiome. Every individual’s microbiome is unique and is influenced by genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors.
The gut microbiome contains a complex community of microbes that live within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and many of these microbes are found to be beneficial to health. Some of them, however, can be harmful and promote infections and diseases. It plays an essential role in human health and influences the development of chronic diseases ranging from metabolic disease to colorectal cancer. There is extensive research investigating the biological functions of the gut microbiota in influencing lung disorders that include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, pleural effusion, and viral infection. It is also recognized that viral infections in the respiratory tract cause a disturbance in the gut microbiome.
Importance of Bifidobacterium
Some Bifidobacterium strains are considered essential probiotics and are used in the food industry. Different strains of bifidobacteria may exert a range of beneficial health effects, including the regulation of intestinal microbial homeostasis, inhibition of pathogens and harmful bacteria that colonize in the gut mucosa, and regulation of immune responses. It also improves the gut mucosal barrier and lowers levels of endotoxin in the intestine.
Genetics and Bifidobacterium Growth
The MCM6 Gene and Bifidobacterium Growth
The MCM6 gene contains instructions for the production of the protein minichromosome maintenance complex component (MCM). They are essential for the initiation of eukaryotic genome replication. It contains two of the regulatory regions for the LCT gene. This gene produces the lactase enzymes that are required for the digestion of lactose in milk.
Variants in these genes are often associated with lactose intolerance in adult life. The variants result in a decreased ability of the epithelial cells in the small intestine to digest lactose due to the decline in the lactase enzyme.
Research studies have shown the association between _LCT/MCM6_ variants and the abundance of bifidobacterium in the gastrointestinal tract.
rs4988235 and Tendency of Bifidobacterium growth
The rs4988235 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or an SNP in the MCM6 gene. Individuals carrying the homozygous CC variation have been found to be lactose intolerant/ lactose non-persistent, compared to those with the TT or TC variant, which have been correlated with lactase persistence.
Multiple studies have found that rs4988235 has been associated with Bifidobacterium abundance in the gut. As bifidobacterium assimilates lactose as a preferred carbon source for growth, it is reasonable that subjects with the CC genotype have a higher Bifidobacterium abundance in their gut.
The rs4988235 SNP is mainly documented as an essential locus related to lactase activity in the European population.
- Gut microbiota is the microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, and fungi, in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, including insects.
- The microbiome makeup of each individual is influenced by various factors like genetics, environment, and lifestyle.
- Gut microbiota plays an essential role in human health and influences the risk of various chronic diseases.
- Viral infections in the respiratory tract cause a disturbance in the gut microbiome.
- MCM6 and LCT are two genes that have been studied to influence the abundance of bifidobacterium in the gastrointestinal tract.
- People with certain variants in these genes have more bifidobacterium and hence, increases protection against various lung disorders.