All over the world, scientists explore just how the microbiome – the diversity of bacteria in and on the human body – benefits our health and defeats pathogens. What we already know is that some bacterial species on our skin or in our gut affect our health positively – whether it comes to skin diseases such as atopic eczema, bowel conditions, or infections with the stomach pathogen Helicobacter pylori, or even mental health issues and depression.
But what determines a microbiome’s composition? Plausible causes could be, among others, diet or our environment’s biodiversity and bacterial diversity. Scientists at Kiel University, Germany, recently published findings which suggest that the blood group may also have an influence on the composition of the microbiome, more specifically, the intestinal or gut microbiome.
According to the university’s report, people referred to as “secretors” secrete blood group antigens not only on the surface of red blood cells, but also in their intestine where, as trace amounts of glucose, they become an energy source, probably for some bacteria of the bacteroides group. This mechanism seemed, “to favour the presence of these bacteria in the human intestine, in particular in blood group A, AB, or B individuals”. “Non-secretor” and blood group 0 individuals lack this release of small amounts of glucose, which affects the composition of the microbiome.
This example illustrates how not only environment and diet, but also your body’s genetic make-up influences bacterial diversity. Now, the scientists aim to identify other factors which co-determine the intestinal microbiome’s composition and balance. “One approach will be to distinguish individual critical bacterial specifies which have substantial influence on the body’s microbial colonisation as a result of their presence and prevalence, both as risk and protective factors”, the release said.
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