Contributed by Nguyet Kong
The microbiome of a pregnant mouse can influence the development of her offspring’s immune system. A paper published in Science, the researchers describe the introduction of bacteria to the pregnant mice and the results of this experiment. It has been believed that the gut microbiome is developed during and after birth that leads to enhance immune system. This experiment show that the mice pups have benefited from the bacteria from the mother’s gut during pregnancy. The researchers have used a genetically engineered strain of E. coli that have a short life for the experiment, so they can introduce it to the mother’s gut microbiome, but die off before the pups are born and exposure to it. Also the researcher studied the pups after birth comparing to a control group and they found that minimal exposure did have impact, the pups have high level of immune cells. Thus, the researchers studied the DNA of the pups compare to the control group and found that differences in their transcriptional profiles. There was an increase in expression of genes that cause mucus and ion channel production in the gut, the researchers suggest was evidence of the mother’s microbiome had an impact on immune system development of the offspring. The researchers didn’t see evidence of the bacteria getting transfer from mother to pups by the placenta, but found bacterial metabolites from mother to pup by milk.
Gomez de Aguero et al. The maternal microbiota drives early postnatal innate immune development, Science (2016). DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2571