Wednesday 7 January 2015

Gut Microbes trigger malaria-fighting antibodies

A carbohydrate antigen found on cells of E. coli and other species prompts a potent immune response against malaria-causing parasites in mice.

Up to 5 percent of the antibodies circulating in the blood of healthy adults are directed against the carbohydrate antigen Galα1-3Galb1-4GlcNAc-R, also known as α-gal. This molecule decorates the surfaces of many human-associated bacteria, as well as protozoan pathogens, and antibodies against it are cytotoxic to these microbes in vitro.

Now, scientists at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal and their colleagues have established an in vivo role for anti-α-gal antibodies in protecting mice against malaria infection.

A team led by Bahtiyar Yilmaz and Miguel Soares has now shown that E. coli bacteria colonizing the guts of mice elicit the production of anti-α-gal antibodies. High levels of anti-α-gal antibodies are also linked to malaria resistance in humans, the researchers noted in Cell ("Gut Microbiota Elicits a Protective Immune Response against Malaria Transmission.")

For further details, see The Scientist.

Posted by Tim Sandle

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