Our bodies are full of bacteria and viruses that are constantly multiplying and interacting with each other in the digestive system.
While we have known for decades that the gut bacteria of young children are essential to protect them from chronic disease later in life, we know very little about many viruses.
Now scientists have discovered about 10,000 new viruses, most of which are “allies” lurking in dirty diapers.
In a new study by researchers in Denmark, hundreds of soiled baby diapers were collected and their contents examined, revealing thousands of hitherto unknown key gut microbiomes.
Scientists already knew that the gut microbiome plays a role in causing chronic diseases such as asthma, ADHD and diabetes in older age, but they are just beginning to analyze the many viruses involved.
A new study published in the journal Nature Microbiology can confirm that a child’s gut contains about 10,000 types of viruses, ten times the number of bacterial species in the same children.
Recently identified viruses can be assigned to 248 virus families, 232 of which were not previously known.
“This means that from an early age, healthy children are exposed to extremely diverse intestinal viruses, which is likely to have a significant impact on the development of various diseases in later life,” said Professor Dennis Sandris Nielsen.
To better understand the early days of gut development, an interdisciplinary team of researchers analyzed the fecal composition of 647 healthy one-year-olds enrolled in the Danish Long-Term Asthma and Chronic Inflammatory Disease Study.
The vast majority (90%) of the viruses found in the contents of diapers were phages, that is, viruses that attack potentially harmful bacteria. Scientists call these viruses “allies” because they don’t cause disease.
The other 10% are eukaryotes, which attach themselves to human cells instead, perhaps for better or for worse.
Professor Nielsen explained that this means that the average child gets 10 to 20 of these viruses at any one time, “which doesn’t seem to make them sick.”
He continued: “We know very little about what is really out there. I think this is important for teaching our immune system to recognize the infection later. But it could also be a risk factor for diseases that we haven’t yet discovered.”
They believe viral load is higher in the gut of infants because the immune system is still maturing and needs a ‘militia’ of phages as a back-up defense, said Sheraz Shah, first author of the study and senior researcher at Copenhagen Prospective Studies. for childhood asthma.
Addendum: “Our hypothesis is that because the immune system has not yet learned to separate the wheat from the chaff at one year of age, it exhibits an extraordinary wealth of gut virus types and it is likely that it will need to be protected against chronic diseases such as asthma. and diabetes, later in life.”
Nielsen pointed out that the environment also plays a role in the presence of a large number of viruses, explaining: “Our intestines are sterile until we are born. During childbirth, we are exposed to bacteria from the mother and from the environment. It is possible that some of the first viruses come with these primary bacteria, while many of them are brought in. Other viruses are later spread through dirty fingers, pets, dirt children put in their mouths, and other objects in the environment.”
This study could help understand why many chronic diseases, including arthritis and depression, have an inflammatory component.
“The immune system is not functioning properly, perhaps because it has not been properly trained,” Shah said. “So if we learn more about the role that bacteria and viruses play in a well-trained immune system, we hope that this will enable us to avoid many of the chronic diseases that plague us.” Many people today.”
Source: New York Post.
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