Episode Summary

Gut microbes can stimulate immune cells in mouse brains to fight off viral infections!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Streptoverticillium mobaraense

News discussed

Jesse's takeaways

The central nervous system, including the brain, is a protected area of the body. Pathogens that get in can do a lot of damage, including memory loss, paralysis, and death, so there's a strict barrier in healthy people that keeps most things out of this area: the blood-brain barrier. The immune system is also kept separate, so special cells called microglia do the patrolling and protection of the brain.

Nevertheless, microbes in the gut can influence the function of the immune system in the brain, even from a distance. In this study, mice lacking gut microbes did not have as effective an immune response to a virus infecting the brain, and it was found that molecules from bacterial outer membranes were sensed by microglia to activate their defensive response.

Journal Paper

Brown DG, Soto R, Yandamuri S, Stone C, Dickey L, Gomes-Neto JC, Pastuzyn ED, Bell R, Petersen C, Buhrke K, Fujinami RS, O’Connell RM, Stephens WZ, Shepherd JD, Lane TE, Round JL. 2019. The microbiota protects from viral-induced neurologic damage through microglia-intrinsic TLR signaling. eLife 8:e47117.

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