E. coli Infection

Dietary Tryptophan and Gut Bacteria Provide Protection Against E. coli Infection, Study Finds


According to a recent study published in Nature, gut bacteria and a diet rich in tryptophan could potentially offer protection against pathogenic E. coli infections, which are known to cause severe gastrointestinal issues. The research highlights how dietary tryptophan, an amino acid commonly found in animal products, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes, can be metabolized by gut bacteria into small molecules known as metabolites. Some of these metabolites have the ability to bind to a receptor on gut epithelial cells, triggering a pathway that reduces the production of proteins that E. coli typically use to attach to the gut lining and cause infection. As a result, E. coli are unable to attach and colonize the gut, allowing them to pass harmlessly through the body.

The study also sheds light on the previously unknown role of the DRD2 receptor in the gut, which is typically recognized as a dopamine receptor in the central and peripheral nervous systems. The researchers believe that DRD2 may be functioning as a microbial metabolite sensor in the gut, ultimately helping to protect against infections.

Lead by associate professor Pamela Chang and postdoctoral researcher Samantha Scott, the study titled “Dopamine Receptor D2 Confers Colonization Resistance via Microbial Metabolites” opens up avenues for further research on targeting the DRD2 receptor and its downstream pathway for potential therapeutic interventions against E. coli infections.

Through experiments with mice infected with a bacterium similar to E. coli, the researchers observed reduced pathogen levels and inflammation after the mice were fed a tryptophan-supplemented diet. Furthermore, when gut bacteria were depleted using antibiotics, the protective effect of tryptophan was found to be dependent on the presence of these microbes.

Using mass spectrometry, the researchers identified three specific tryptophan metabolites in the gut that were significantly increased by a tryptophan-rich diet. By isolating the DRD2 receptor as the key player in the protective pathway, the researchers uncovered how the activation of this receptor compromised the production of actin regulatory proteins, essential for E. coli to attach to gut cells and cause infection.

Overall, this study underscores the important role of dietary tryptophan and gut bacteria in protecting against E. coli infections, offering new insights into potential therapeutic strategies for combating pathogenic bacteria in the gut.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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