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Research team introduces new tool to stimulate the fight against malnutrition in children




Research team introduces new tool to stimulate the fight against malnutrition in children

Development of a mouse model of intergenerational malnutrition. a Schematic of experimental design (created with Both HD and SD puppies in the PW model are maintained on the M8 diet from 4 to 8 weeks of age. HD and SD puppies in the IG model are also placed on the M8 diet at 3 weeks of age. b Absolute weight of animals at the time of euthanasia. c Tail length. D Length of the thigh. E Measurement of IGF-1 in liver tissue of IG and PW mice. (F) Representative histological images of H&E-stained ileal tissue from IG mice. G Quantification of villus length and muscle thickness in IG and PW mice. Data collected between healthy donor-colonized mice (3176 and 4142) and immature donor-colonized mice (4092 and 3114) at 8 weeks of age. Each point represents an individual animal. BD * P ≤ 0.05, **** P≤ 0.0001 by two-way ANOVA with Šídák’s multiple comparison test. B.C N = 24/group [12 per donor] for IG groups, N= 18-20/group [8-10 per donor] for PW groups. D N= 12/group [6 per donor] for all groups under all conditions (E) N= 16/group [8 per donor] for all groups. FG N= 18-22/group [7-12 per donor] for IG groups, N= 18-20/group [8-10 per donor] for PW groups. E.g * P≤ 0.05, ** P≤ 0.01 by Mann-Whitney U test. Credit: Microbiome(2024). DOI: 10.1186/s40168-024-01783-3

A new tool developed at the University of Virginia School of Medicine is expected to help doctors and scientists better understand and combat childhood malnutrition, which contributes to nearly half of all deaths among children under five. vanquish.

The research model of Carrie A. Cowardin, Ph.D. and colleagues at UVA offers a more sophisticated way to study the effects of malnutrition on the microbiome, the microbes that naturally live in the gut, and in turn on growth and health. immune system.

The paper is published in the news Microbiome.

Scientists routinely study the many complex interactions within the microbiome by taking samples from the human microbiome and moving them into laboratory mice. But Cowardin and colleagues found that they could significantly improve the effectiveness of that model by introducing the microbes when the mice were very young, before they were weaned. They found that this new model of ‘intergenerational colonization’ better mimicked the effect of malnutrition during early childhood.

“We believe this new model will help us investigate many of the major challenges malnourished children face, including higher infection rates and changes in cognitive development,” said Cowardin, part of UVA’s Department of Pediatrics. “Our current studies use this system to identify specific microbes that influence development, with the goal of using these microbes as therapeutics to promote healthy growth.”

Malnutrition and the microbiome

Using Cowardin’s new model, the researchers found that unweaned mice fed microbes from children with impaired growth also showed growth retardation. Furthermore, the young mice developed immune system responses similar to those seen in human children. But when the microbes were given to mice later in life, the effects were much less similar to what was seen in humans.

That suggests that Cowardin’s new approach offers a better way to study malnutrition in children. Furthermore, the results align nicely with previous research suggesting that childhood is a critical period that determines the health and strength of the immune system throughout life, the researchers say.

The new model, Cowardin said, should help scientists better understand the underlying biological causes of stunting and other harmful effects of malnutrition in developing countries. That understanding will advance efforts to develop new approaches to prevent these effects and help children live longer, healthier lives.

“We hope that this work will also allow us to answer fundamental questions about how the microbiome interacts with our own cells to shape the course of development,” said Cowardin. “Stunted growth due to malnutrition is a very difficult problem facing global child health, and the lessons we learn are likely to apply to many other conditions as well.”

More information:
Yadeliz A. Serrano Matos et al., Colonization during a key developmental window reveals microbiota-dependent shifts in growth and immunity during malnutrition, Microbiome(2024). DOI: 10.1186/s40168-024-01783-3

Offered by the University of Virginia

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