Analysis of the gut microbiota will be necessary for personalized medicine and preventive medicine

Image of digestive microbiota – EEZ / CSIC – ARCHIVE


The future prospects for microbiota analysis are “extraordinary”, as it will be necessary to optimize pharmacological treatments in personalized medicine, for diagnostic purposes, and to evaluate the effects of classical treatments, nutritional interventions and microbiota transplants, and also in preventive medicine , since “a certain type of microbiota may be indicating early the future development of a pathology”, according to Professor Francisco A. Tomás-Barberán, from the Department of Food Science and Technology of the CEBAS-CSIC.

In his opinion, the intestinal microbiota not only correlates with health or disease, but can also be considered as a “causal agent of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative”.

“The microbiota has great relevance in the development of obesity, while it has been shown that it can be the causal factor in the formation of atheroma plaque and in the establishment of diabetes. It can also affect the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, because it metabolizes levodopa to dopamine prematurely in the intestine, preventing its effectiveness and producing gastrointestinal side effects that can be very uncomfortable for patients, “he explains.

For its part, the clinical laboratory will play a fundamental role in the analysis of all these bacteria or those bacterial groups that are markers of certain pathological states. Currently, these tests, which are based on second and third generation massive sequencing, are still expensive, but their price is already falling and in the future they are expected to be routine tests in clinical laboratories.

At the present time, as the expert has expressed, in Spain these techniques are fundamentally research tools and are available in some laboratories and centralized services and also in private laboratories, being a field in expansion.

As the professor recalled, the intestinal microbiota is defined as the set of all microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses, protists and archaea) that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. “It has been considered that, due to the relevance of the bacteria that colonize the organism, the intestinal microbiota could be considered as a new organ with a metabolic capacity similar to that of the liver,” he explained, adding that the composition of the microbiota it varies with age and health status.

The intestinal microbiota is nourished and modulated by those constituents of the diet that are not absorbed and used by our body. The foods and ingredients called probiotics favor the growth of bacteria that are beneficial to health, such as the probiotic bacteria that colonize our digestive system, which include lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. They also promote the development of other bacterial groups that have been shown to be beneficial to health, reducing obesity or intestinal inflammation.

“In general, a varied diet rich in foods of plant origin with their dietary fiber and polyphenols makes us promote the growth of a healthier microbiota and a healthy microbiota will allow us to enjoy a better state of health for longer,” he adds. Tomás-Barberán.

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