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Gut Microbes from Healthy Domnors May Help Children Suffering from Malnutrition

First Posted: Feb 22, 2016 09:14 AM EST

Gut microbes do more than you might think. Scientists have found that gut microbial species transferred from healthy children to mice can counter the detrimental effects caused by microbes from undernourished children.

For millions of children worldwide, malnourishment can cause stunted growth. This condition, though, has been very hard to treat. Previous studies have hinted that malnutrition can impair the development of the gut microbial community, which is why researchers decided to focus on these microbes to see if they could lead to possible treatment.

Scientists found that mice colonized with microbiota from healthy donors gained significantly more weight and lean body mass than mice colonized with microbiota from undernourished donors. Co-housing mice with health and undernourished microbiota allowed the healthy microbiota to transfer into the guts of the undernourished mice and restore normal growth.

A second study also revealed that just two strains of gut microbes keep the growth hormone activity going in young mice that would otherwise exhibit hormone growth resistance because of malnourishment. These results suggest that there are two microbial species that might help buffer the adverse effects of chronic malnutrition.

These findings could be huge for the treatment of malnourishment. More specifically, they could help researchers create a way to help develop therapies for children suffering from malnutrition. In addition, the findings show the importance of gut microbiota when it comes to a person's health.

The findings are published in the journal Science.

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