Some drugs work well in one person but are not effective in others. Some also cause side effects for some people, but others don’t. A study of human intestinal bacteria and mouse models is investigating whether our intestinal bacteria can help explain the reason.
Scientists have known for years that bacteria in the intestine play an important role in digestion.
As technology advances, it is faster and easier to characterize our microbes and to further explore their role in health and disease.
However, when more information is found, the complex relationship between humans and our local microbes becomes more complex.
Scientists are now exploring the role of intestinal bacteria in various diseases, from Parkinson’s disease to fear of heart disease.
In the past as a faint niche of medical research, intestinal bacteria became the focus.
Another study examined the potential role that our intestinal bacteria can play in drug metabolism. When we use drugs orally, many will fall into our intestines.
Medicines and our gut microbes
Because microbiomes differ from individual to individual, how can these changes affect the way we metabolize these drugs and how they enter the body?
The researchers tried to reveal more details about the effects of microbes on drugs. Led by Andrew Goodman from Yale Medical University, New Haven, Connecticut, they recently published their findings in the journal Nature.
This group explained that previous research showed how microbes can influence the workings of certain drugs. For example, sulfasalazine, a drug for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, depends on intestinal bacteria to activate it.
Conversely, Eggerthella lenta, a large intestinal bacterium, can deactivate the heart drug digoxin.
Although scientists have described the influence of microbes on certain drugs, Goodman and colleagues explained that “most molecular mechanisms remain unknown”.
In addition, the scientific community has not described the scope and scope of this edition.
It is known that drugs do not all have the same effect. In some people, drugs can work well; for others it may take longer to take effect or not at all; In some people, certain drugs can cause dangerous side effects.
There are many reasons why people react differently to the same drug, including age, gender, genetics and diet. Can the bacteria in our intestine play a role?
According to the latest research team, these microbes contain 150 times more genes than our genome. These microscopic tenants produce various enzymes, some of which can change, activate, or deactivate drugs.
Examination of their gene products and others
In a recent study, the authors studied the interactions between microbes and drugs by examining how human intestinal bacteria metabolize various drugs. They also identified microbial gene products – mostly enzymes – that can metabolize drugs.
Overall, they evaluated the ability of 76 common intestinal bacterial strains to modify 271 drugs. Medicines are chosen to include various species, mechanisms of action and chemical properties.
To study further interactions, scientists used gnotobiotic mice – germ-free animals.
They found that 176 of the 271 drugs (64.9%) could be metabolized by intestinal bacteria, significantly reducing drug concentration. They also showed that each strain of bacteria can metabolize 11-95 types of drugs.
They found that they could use metagenom data – the number of genes in certain bacterial populations – to explain the potential of individual bacterial groups or species to change drugs.
Scientists hope this understanding can help doctors predict how people will respond to drugs in the future.
In the future, it is possible to modify the microbes of the subject to ensure this drug is effective and reduces the risk of serious side effects. However, scientists need to do more research to get a clearer picture of how this interaction works.
Our understanding of the effects of intestinal bacteria and drug metabolism is still at an early stage. However, the conclusions from this latest study show that our intestinal bacteria might have at least some impact on our drugs.