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Healthy, stress-burning fat that is hidden in dirt

Credit: CC0 Public Domain Thirty years after scientists trained the term "hygiene hypothesis" to propose that increased exposure to microorganisms could benefit health, CU Boulder researchers identified an anti-inflammatory fat in a soil-growing bacterium that could be responsible.The discovery published Monday in the journal Psychopharmacology may at least partially explain how the bacterium [Mycobacterium vaccae] suppresses stress-related disorders. It also gives the researchers a step closer to developing a micro-based "stress vaccine". "We think there is a special sauce that drives the protective effects in this bacterium, and this fat is one of the main ingredients of that particular sauce," said senior author and integrative physiologist Professor Christopher Lowry. British researcher David Strachan first proposed the controversial "hygiene hypothesis" in 1 989 and suggests that in our modern, sterile world, lack of exposure to childhood microorganisms led to impaired immune response and higher doses of allergies and asthma. Scientists have then refined that theory, suggesting that there is no shortage of exposure to pathogenic bacteria in games, but rather that "old friends" microbial microbes in the soil and the environment that we have long lived alongside – and the mental health is "The idea is that when people have moved from farms and farmers or hunter-gatherers to cities, we have lost contact with organisms that worked to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation," Lowry says. "It has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders." Lowry has published several studies showing a link between…

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Thirty years after scientists trained the term “hygiene hypothesis” to propose that increased exposure to microorganisms could benefit health, CU Boulder researchers identified an anti-inflammatory fat in a soil-growing bacterium that could be responsible.
The discovery published Monday in the journal Psychopharmacology may at least partially explain how the bacterium [Mycobacterium vaccae] suppresses stress-related disorders. It also gives the researchers a step closer to developing a micro-based “stress vaccine”.

“We think there is a special sauce that drives the protective effects in this bacterium, and this fat is one of the main ingredients of that particular sauce,” said senior author and integrative physiologist Professor Christopher Lowry.

British researcher David Strachan first proposed the controversial “hygiene hypothesis” in 1

989 and suggests that in our modern, sterile world, lack of exposure to childhood microorganisms led to impaired immune response and higher doses of allergies and asthma. Scientists have then refined that theory, suggesting that there is no shortage of exposure to pathogenic bacteria in games, but rather that “old friends” microbial microbes in the soil and the environment that we have long lived alongside – and the mental health is

“The idea is that when people have moved from farms and farmers or hunter-gatherers to cities, we have lost contact with organisms that worked to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation,” Lowry says. “It has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders.”

Lowry has published several studies showing a link between exposure to healthy bacteria and mental health. One showed that children raised in a rural environment surrounded by animals and bacteria-laden dust, grow up to have more stress-resistant immune systems and may have a lower risk of mental illness than animal-free urban residents. Others have shown that when a particular soil-growing bacterium [Mycobacterium vaccae] is injected into rodents, animal behavior changes in a manner similar to antidepressants and has long-lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain. (Studies suggest excessive inflammation increases the risk of trauma and stress-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder.) A Lowry-authored study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2016, showed that injections of [1945901] M. vaccae prior to a stressful event may prevent a “PTSD-like” syndrome in mice, averting stress-induced colitis, and making the animals act less anxious when stressed again later.

“We knew it worked, but we didn’t know why,” Lowry said. “This new paper helps clarify it.”

For the new study, Lowry and his team identified and chemically synthesized a new lipid or fatty acid, called (Z) -hexadecenoic acid found in [Mycobacteriumvaccae] and used next generation sequencing techniques to study how interacted with macrophages or immune cells when the cells were stimulated. They discovered that within cells, the lipid functioned as a key in a lock, binding to a specific receptor, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR), and inhibiting a variety of key pathways that drive inflammation. They also found that when the cells were pretreated with the lipid, they were more resistant to inflammation when stimulated.

“It seems that the bacteria we co-operated with have a trick in the sleeve,” Lowry said. “When taken up by immune cells, they release these lipids that bind to this receptor and shut off the inflammatory cascade.” Lowry has long thought to develop a “stress vaccine” from M. vaccae which could be given to the first respondents, soldiers and others in high voltage jobs to help them avert the psychological damage to stress. “This is a major advance for us as it identifies an active component of the bacteria and receptor for this active component in the host,” he said. Knowing only the mechanism of action as M. vaccae harvests benefits can increase confidence in it as a potential therapeutic. And if further studies show that the new fat alone has therapeutic effects, this molecule can become a target for drug development, he said.

The study offers comprehensive evidence that our “old friends” have a lot to offer. [19659005] “This is just a strain of a species of a type of bacterium found in the soil, but there are millions of other strains in the soil,” Lowry said. “We are just starting to see the top of the iceberg in identifying the mechanisms through which they have evolved to keep us healthy. It will inspire awe in all of us.”


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More information:
David G. Smith et al. Identification and characterization of a novel anti-inflammatory lipid isolated from Mycobacterium vaccae, a soil-based bacterium with immunoregulatory and stress-resistant properties, Psychopharmacology (2019). DOI: 10.1007 / s00213-019-05253-9

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Healthy, stress-disrupting fat cast in dirt (2019, May 29)
May 29, 2019
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