The human microbiota refer to an ensemble of microorganisms living in our body, which are made up of trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Contrary to popular belief, microbiota are not always bad organisms that harm our health. Instead, they are essential in supporting a healthy body system. And scientists have just discovered the mechanism microbiota transmit signals in our body and regulate hematopoiesis in the bone marrow.
The mysterious microbiota
The first reaction from most people to the microbiota is “Ewwwwwww!!!” They just associate microbiota with something dirty and disgusting. Some may know that microbiota play a critical role in maintaining a healthy gut and digestive system. But microbiota have more health benefits than they thought.
It is true that the biggest populations of microbiota reside in our gut, but they can affect our entire body, including liver, lung, brain, bone marrow and other organs. Yet, no one can figure out how microbiota affect the entire body so far. What are their mechanisms? How do they transmit a signal?
Now, researchers have finally found out one of the mechanisms of microbiota — they control the formation of blood cells in the bone marrow and thus improve the immune system through the “signal cells” called CX3CR1+ cells.
The role of CX3CR1+ cells
In the process, the microbiota will first send a signal to the bone marrow. Then, the CX3CR1+ cells are able to recognize this signal. After recognizing it, they will produce signal substances called cytokines. These substances then stimulate the body's defense system and speed up the formation of blood cells.
"For the first time, our research describes the mechanism that had not been explained how microbiota regulate not only digestive tracts but also entire body response. It might be possible to apply this study to control immune response in other parts of a body or to treat cancer and inflammatory disease via microbiota signal pathway,” said Prof. Seung-Woo Lee.
Microbiota, though tiny, can affect us to a greater extent. Scientists are now doing their best to lift the veil and show us more secrets of microbiota.