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        In other words, translating our
        findings will be important, and our
        results are in only at the starting
        point of this journey.”
        The study examined the effects
        of microbiome depletion and
        restoration in animal models using
        approaches that cause structural
        and functional changes in the
        gut. The researchers discovered
        that while microbiome depletion
        caused a loss of neurons, natural
        microbiome recovery restored gut
        function and promoted the growth of
        new neurons.
        “The findings from our work provide
        clues as to the mechanisms that
        control ‘plasticity’ or the ability
        of the gut nervous system to be
        repaired if it undergoes damage,”
        says Sharkey.
                                             The research was funded in part by   Chronic Diseases and the Hotchkiss
        The study, entitled “Intestinal      the Canadian Institutes of Health   Brain Institute.
        Microbiota Shapes Gut Physiology     Research, Canada’s federal funding
        and Regulates Enteric Neurons and    agency for health research.         Simon Hirota is an associate
        Glia,” has recently been published                                       professor in the departments
        in the science journal Microbiome.   Next steps for Sharkey and the      of Physiology & Pharmacology,
                                             research team include exploring     Microbiology, Immunology &
        Dr. Fernando Vicentini, PhD, first   other potential microbial factors   Infectious Diseases at the CSM.
        author of the study, says, “The most   and their role in the neural control   Hirota is also a member of the Snyder
        challenging aspect of researching    of the gut.                         Institute for Chronic Diseases and the
        the unknown physiological roles                                          Alberta Children’s Hospital Research
        of the intestinal microbiota lies in   There is a rising awareness among   Institute.
        identifying specific microbial-derived   the public through discussions in
        molecules that may affect the host,   social media, on the internet and   Fernando Vicentini is a postdoctoral
        as there is a myriad of molecules    even through promotion of products   fellow, now in the Department of
        with the potential to do so.”        such as yogurts that contain        Medicine at McMaster University.
                                             probiotics, that the gut microbiome
        He adds that after many              plays a vital role in health as well   Story Source:
        discussions and brainstorming        as disease,” says Sharkey. “These   Materials provided by University of
        sessions with the research team,     conversations are making their way   Calgary. Original written by Mike
        they were able to hypothesize and    into physicians’ offices.           Fisher. Note: Content may be edited
        demonstrate a link for two different                                     for style and length.
        bacterial molecules involved in the   “As our understanding increases
        regulation of neuronal integrity.    regarding the role the gut          Journal Reference:
                                             microbiome plays in gut health,     1. Fernando A. Vicentini, Catherine
        For Dr. Simon Hirota, PhD, the       I think we will ultimately have     M. Keenan, Laurie E. Wallace, Crystal
        study’s co-senior author, in         new ways to diagnose and treat      Woods, Jean-Baptiste Cavin, Amanda
        addition to the thrill of discovery,   gastrointestinal diseases on an   R. Flockton, Wendy B. Macklin, Jaime
        this research was exciting in        individual level,”                  Belkind-Gerson, Simon A. Hirota,
        that it allowed him to collaborate                                       Keith A. Sharkey. Intestinal microbiota
        with a great team of people who      Keith Sharkey is a professor in     shapes gut physiology and regulates
        contributed the complementary        the Department of Physiology        enteric neurons and glia. Microbiome,
        expertise needed to test these       & Pharmacology at CSM and a         2021; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s40168-
        novel hypotheses.                    member of the Snyder Institute for   021-01165-z

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