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Antibiotics have been in use for almost 70 years and while they have proved to be valuable for the treatment of a multitude of infections, they have also led to increase in the resistance in bacterial strains through a variety of ways. This study is yet another Testimonial to the fact that antibiotics may be harming the body in more ways than previously thought.
This study has forced the scientists to re-evaluate the potential benefits and risks associated with the use of different classes of antibiotics. This study adequately looks at the thin line of balance between the good and bad microbes in the gut and how persistent use of antibiotics can disrupt this balance.
The study was carried out by investigators from the University of California and was led by the senior author of the study, Andreas Bäumler, professor of medical immunology and microbiology. The results of the study were later published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.
During the course of the study, experiments were carried out on mice, resulting in the recognition of a chain of events the enhanced the growth of pathogens in the lining of the gut after using streptomycin, a commonly used antibiotic.
Antibiotics Disrupt Oxygen Levels in the Gut Lining
The study revealed that using antibiotics favors the growth of bad bacteria like Salmonella typhi in the gut. The process is initiated with the disruption of the growth of the beneficial microbes. One such example is interruption with the growth of Clostridia, the bacteria responsible for the degradation of fiber ingested from plant based foods to make butyrate, an acid that helps the cells lining the gut as the source of energy for water absorption. Clostridia are anaerobic bacteria; they can grow in the absence of oxygen.
When butyrate is no more available for aiding the absorption of water, the cells resort to fermenting glucose to lactate in order to obtain energy. This fermentation process leads to increase in the level of oxygen, thereby creating an environment that promotes the growth of bad bacteria like Salmonella inside the gut since Salmonella is an aerobic bacterium which means that it depends on oxygen for its survival and growth.
To sum it all up, antibiotics help along the growth of bad microbes in the gut lining by increasing the levels of oxygen and allowing them to breathe. In one of the previous studies, the association between depletion of butyrate-producing organisms and inflammatory bowel disease has already been established.
The Future Outcomes
The study will help the scientists modify the existing antibiotics and come up with better drugs that are free of side effects. It has also opened doors for further research to investigate other ways by which antibiotics might help the growth of bad bacteria in the gut.
By improving the currently available antibiotics, scientists hope to overcome the disease causing potential of antibiotics in order to tip the scales in favor of using antibiotics for the treatment of various sorts of infections.