Monday January 20, 2020

Gut Microbiota Helps to Maintain Body Temperature in Cold Conditions

Elderly people have many problems with body temperature regulation in cold environments

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Gut Bacteria.
Gut Bacteria. Pixabay

Ever wondered how animals respond to exposure to low temperature conditions? It’s the gut microbiota that plays an important role in regulating the body temperature of animals, finds a study.

The gut microbiota has diverse impacts on human and animal physiology and health.

In the study, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences focused on the gut microbiota’s role in thermoregulation.

It is well known that animals sustain their body temperature by activating heat production from a specialised tissue known as brown adipose tissue.

To evaluate the function of gut microbiota in the activation of brown adipose tissue, the team conducted experiments on mice and used different antibiotic recipes to eradicate gut microbiota in mice.

The study, published in the journal Atherosclerosis, noted that these differences could not be explained by diet or kidney function, pointing to a difference in the make-up of their intestinal bacteria.
Gut Bacteria, (Representational image). Pixabay

The mice lacking gut microbiota showed impaired thermoregulation, said lead author John R. Speakman from the Academy’s Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology.

For those mice whose gut microbiota was destroyed by antibiotics, supplemented gut bacteria helped partially restore their heat-producing ability, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Although the experiment was conducted in mice, it has important implications for human health research.

Elderly people have many problems with body temperature regulation in cold environments.

More research should be done to learn if changes in the human microbiome with age contribute to this effect, and if modulating microbiome in bodies will help elderly people better handle cold exposure, according to the study published in Cell Reports journal. (IANS)

Next Story

Not Neurons But Stress Hormone Control Your Body Clocks

The body clocks are controlled by the stress hormone

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Stress hormone
Stress hormone control everything from sleep needs to body temperature. Pixabay

Stress hormone, and not neurons, manage the fixed circadian rhythm that controls everything from sleep needs to body temperature, the researchers have found.

Our internal clock is controlled by some very distinct hereditary genes, known as clock genes. These genes are particularly active in the so-called suprachiasmatic nucleus area of the brain.

However, these areas of the brain are not directly linked by neurons, and this made researchers at the University of Copenhagen curious.

Using lab tests, the team demonstrated that the circadian rhythm is controlled by the stress hormone, corticosterone.

“In humans, the hormone is known as cortisol, and although the sleep rhythm in rats is the opposite of ours, we basically have the same hormonal system,” said Associate Professor Martin Fredensborg Rath from the Department of Neuroscience.

In the study with the stress hormone corticosterone, the researchers removed the suprachiasmatic nucleus in a number of rats.

As expected, this removed the circadian rhythm of the animals.

Stress hormone
Research demonstrated that the circadian rhythm and sleep cycle is controlled by the stress hormone. Pixabay

However, the circadian rhythm of the cerebellum was restored when the rats were subsequently implanted with a special programmable micropump.

In this case, however, the researchers used the pump to emit doses of corticosterone at different times of the day and night, similar to the animals’ natural rhythm.

“Nobody has used these pumps for anything like this before. So technically, we were onto something completely new,” said Rath.

With the artificial corticosterone supplement, researchers were again able to read a rhythmic activity of clock genes in the animals.

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“This is interesting from a scientific point of view, because it means that we have two systems – the nervous system and the hormonal system – that communicate perfectly and influence one another, all in the course of a reasonably tight 24-hour programme,” Rath elaborated.

The researchers now plans to study other rhythmic hormones in a similar manner, including hormones from the thyroid gland. (IANS)