The set of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that live in a particular habitat make up what is known as a microbiota. We can find microbiota in our environment (in the leaf of a tree, in volcanic rock, in the Arctic ice …), as well as in our organism (in the skin, in the intestine, in the mouth. .). Usually, the relationship between our organism and the microbiota is of mutual benefit (what is known as symbiosis). Sometimes, however, there are certain dysfunctions that can have a negative effect on our health, either because a bacterium that provides benefits is no longer present, or on the contrary, one that causes infections enters our body and causes disease. (e.g., the well-known Salmonella). Similarly, at other times the positive or negative effects depend on the relative amount of certain bacteria in a particular area of our body and the relationship that the various microorganisms establish with each other and with our immune system. In fact, it is estimated that between 75-80% of the immune system is located in the intestine, where it plays a very important role, for example, preventing the entry of microorganisms into the circulatory system. In addition, there is a close relationship between the digestive system and the nervous system, to the point that the digestive system is referred to as a “second brain”.
Studies show that exposure to air pollution could be affecting the composition and functioning of the microbiota, causing damage to the gut and affecting immune health, as well as the nervous system and the brain. In the framework of the ALTER project (Air pollution, intestinal microbiota and neurodevelopment in the first 24 months of life), funded by the Carlos III Institute, we will evaluate the impact that pre- and postnatal exposure to air pollution has on the composition of the intestinal microbiota during the first two years of life. We also aim to explore whether the impacts of air pollution on the intestinal microbiota have implications for the neurodevelopment of children. The study will be carried out with the participation of BiSC families, especially those who have been able to provide feces samples from their sons and daughters at 6 and / or 18 months of age. Sample analysis will begin this summer and continue until next summer. By the end of 2023, we hope to be able to return to families with information on the composition of the intestinal microbiota of their children.
So, thank you very much for your efforts and involvement in the BiSC project, which have allowed us to carry out this new project, and many more!
More information about the project at: https://www.isglobal.org/en/-/alter-proyecto-polucion-microbiota-intestinal-neurodesarrollo-bebes
Arrieta et al. The intestinal microbiome in early life: health and disease. Front. Immunol., 05 September 2014 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2014.00427
The news has been written by Mireia Gascón, a researcher of BiSC project.