Antibiotic treatment may compromise the innate immunity of the intestine, a Nature study suggests. The finding may help explain why treating people with antibiotics can lead to increased infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and points to potential therapies that may solve the problem.
Eric Pamer and colleagues found that antibiotic-treated mice had lower amounts of an intestinal antimicrobial protein, RegIII gamma, which can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). So therapies that increase levels of this protein may fend off infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they suggest.
Infections caused by highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as VRE, are an increasing menace in hospitalized patients. It's been assumed that antibiotics kill off many different types of intestinal bacteria, opening up a nutrient-rich niche in which resistant bacteria can thrive. This study, however, suggests an alternative explanation whereby resistant bacteria exploit antibiotic-induced innate immune deficits.
Eric Pamer (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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