Ant Microbiota and Probiotics Definitively Help Ulcerative Colitis

Cephalotes varians casent0103759 dorsal 1
This Cephalotes varians and its gut microbiota could answer questions about how microbiota develop and spread.
This week at BBS: Fecal microbiota transplantation has the added benefit of normalizing bile acids, ants could be a good model to study gut microbiota changes, and probiotics are definitively helpful for ulcerative colitis.

Microbiota Transplantation Normalizes Bile Acids

Clostridium difficile infections, which often arise after antibiotic treatment, can be triggered by changes in colon bile acids. Intestinal bacteria influence the composition of bile acids in the colon, and fecal microbiota transfer (FMT) also treats C. difficile infections. Researchers speculated that there might be a relationship between FMT and bile acids and that FMT might also normalize bile acid composition. By analyzing the bile acids and bile salts in fecal samples before and after FMT, they found that there was a correlation. FMT, during C. difficile treatment, also normalized colon bile acids

Determining Why Microbiota Are Different with Ants

Insects also have gut microbiota, which are often crucial to the health of the insect. In the ant species, Cephalotes varians, 16 bacterial species appear to play core roles in their host’s health. To learn more about microbiota development, the scientists from Drexel University examined the bacteria in ants from different colonies and over the lifetime of ants in a single colony. They found that food was mainly responsible for inter-colony differences in gut microbiota. However, studies within a single colony showed that ant age and genetic makeup also induced changes. Studies like these can clarify the factors that influence the development of gut microbiota.

Probiotics: a Win for Ulcerative Colitis

When multiple studies are published investigating the use of a treatment for a disease, it can be helpful to combine the data from each study to paint a total picture of effectiveness. This is called a “meta-analysis.” Researchers from Shanghai and Chicago recently used this process to look at the effectiveness of probiotics for ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD), two forms of inflammatory bowel disease. While probiotics appear not to be helpful for Crohn’s disease, they are a success for UC and can significantly maintain remissions. In particular, VSL#3 was good for UC with the condition pouchitis.