Gut microbes affect blood vessel architecture
Gothenburg – Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy have discovered a previously unknown mechanism which helps intestinal bacteria to affect the formation of blood vessels. In a study of mice, the team led by Fredrik Bäckhed found out how gut microbes influence blood vasculature remodelling in the intestine. The results open up future opportunities to control the intestine’s absorption of nutrients, which in turn may be used to treat conditions such as intestinal diseases and obesity. The study focuses on "villi", finger-like projections which are about one millimetre long, and which increase the surface area of the intestine and maximise its ability to absorb nutrients. In the presence of bacteria, these villi become shorter and wider, which means that new blood vessels must be formed. However, the process involved has previously been unclear.“Our study shows that signals from the normal gut microbiota that induces blood vessel formation in the small intestine”, Bäckhed said . “In simplified terms, the intestinal bacteria promote the mucosal cells in the intestine to attach a sugar molecule to a specific protein. The sugar molecule acts like a zip code moving it to the cell surface where it induces signalling.