Microbes and the developing gastrointestinal tract
ABSTRACT During the course of mammalian evolution, there has been a close relationship between microbes residing in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the mammalian host. Although the host provides the microbes with a warm environment and nutrients, they, in turn, undergo various metabolic processes that aid the host. The host has developed weapons against microbes that are considered foreign, as well as mechanisms to tolerate and live synergistically with most of the microbes in the GI tract. This relationship is proving to be important not only in the neonatal period and during infancy, but it is becoming increasingly evident that microbial colonization in early life may affect the individual's health throughout life. Here we will review this relationship in terms of health and disease, with a focus on the aspects of this relationship during maturation of the host.
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ABSTRACT: A mixture of neutral short chain galactooligosaccharides and long chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scGOS/lcFOS) has been shown to have prebiotic and immunomodulatory effects comparable to human milk oligosaccharides. This can be translated into clinical practice as a potential to prevent infections and allergy. The hypothesis of this study was that this specific prebiotic mixture could have a preventive effect against infections during the first 6 mo of life. In a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, healthy term infants with a parental history of atopy were fed either prebiotic-supplemented (8 g/L scGOS/lcFOS) or placebo-supplemented (8 g/L maltodextrin) hypoallergenic formula during the first 6 mo of life. The primary outcome measures were infectious episodes, number of infections requiring antibiotics, and incidence of infections. During the study period, infants in the scGOS/lcFOS group had fewer episodes of all types of infections combined (P = 0.01). They also tended to have fewer upper respiratory tract infection episodes (P = 0.07) and fewer infections requiring antibiotic treatment (P = 0.10). Similarly, the cumulative incidence of recurring infections was significantly lower in the scGOS/lcFOS group. The cumulative incidence of any recurring infection and recurring respiratory infections was 3.9 and 2.9% in the scGOS/lcFOS group and 13.5 and 9.6% in the placebo group, respectively (P < 0.05). Oligosaccharide prebiotics reduced the number of infectious episodes and the incidence of recurring, particularly respiratory, infections during the first 6 mo of life. Although the exact mechanism of action is under investigation, it is very likely that the immune modulating effect of this prebiotic mixture through intestinal flora modification is the principal mechanism for the observed infection prevention early in life.Journal of Nutrition 11/2007; 137(11):2420-4. · 4.23 Impact Factor