Thursday, 28 March 2013

Gut bacteria - obesity and coeliac disease - stem cells

Another very quick post to bring to your attention two very interesting papers which caught my attention recently.

The first is by Ciccocioppo and colleagues* and how, quote: "allogeneic HSCT may lead to induction of gluten tolerance in patients with CD [coeliac disease]." HSCT = hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, which is indeed as controversial as it sounds. Two patients, both with CD and β-thalassemia major who at 5 year follow-up after HSCT did not appear to show a reappearance of the some of the serological and histological markers of CD following gluten consumption. I'm not making any recommendations from this (or anything else) aside from stressing the need for quite a bit more research in this area.

The second paper by Liou and colleagues** suggested that based on a mouse model, changes to the gastrointestinal (GI) bacterial population following a gastric bypass might play some role in the weight loss above and beyond the surgery itself. This paper has received gallons of media coverage from places such as the BBC (see here) to Scientific American (see here) to Nature (see here). It's an interesting idea, that our gut bacteria might actually influence our body shape and particularly pertinent to our modern day obsession with weight and its health implications. That's not to say that this is the first time such a suggestion has been made (see this and this post from a sister blog) but at least now it is in the public consciousness and potentially opens the door to lots of possibilities not least the dreaded fecal bacterial transplant...


* Ciccocioppo R. et al. Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation May Restore Gluten Tolerance in Patients With Celiac Disease. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2013; 56: 422-427.

** Liou AP. et al. Conserved Shifts in the Gut Microbiota Due to Gastric Bypass Reduce Host Weight and Adiposity. Sci Transl Med 2013; 5: 178ra41.