Scientists at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Harvard Medical School in Boston discovered that a sugar called polysaccharide A, or PSA protects mice from developing a disorder similar to human Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria Helicobacter hepaticus. This may not seem like a big deal to alot of you but this polysaccharide is produced in our gut by the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis (remember we have billions of friendly bacteria in our digestive tract).
Apparently this B fragilis PSA has the ability to induce certain white blood cells (CD4 T cells) to produce molecules (interleukin 10) that suppresses inflammation. I know thats alot of scientific mumbo jumbo but its pretty exciting stuff when you think that bacteria in our gut has the power to effect the critical balance between health and disease.
The day may come when we will be able to harness the bacteria’s immunomodulatory effects that can lead to therapies to help those with inflammatory disorders. Cool Stuff!!