The interplay between the gut microbiota and the intestinal mucus layer is important both in the maintenance of the epithelial barrier as part of the innate immune defense, and in the conservation of gut homeostasis. Little is known about how the microbiota regulates mucin proteins, which protect the mucosal surfaces of all epithelial linings by physical hindrance or specific binding of pathogenic agents including virus and bacteria. It has been shown that the presence and composition of the microbiota is directly involved in the regulation of gene transcription in the intestinal epithelium.
The intestinal mucus layer of germ free mice has been shown to display a distinctly different composition and structure compared to mucus from conventionally bred animals in vitro and in vivo. This points towards an important role of the microbiota in the regulation of mucin production. To which extent expression of all mucin genes are dependent on the presence of microorganisms and whether specific bacteria are capable of regulating mucus production in early life remains, however, to be established.
The very first period after birth is believed to be vulnerable for establishment of the gut microbiota and consequently for the health and integrity of the epithelium throughout life. In this period, a development regulated by endogeneous factors such as hormones, in parallel with gene regulation caused by the microorganisms present in the gut, takes place. Although the microflora undoubtedly plays a regulatory role in the regulation of production of mucin, the importance of endogenous regulation as opposed to gut microbiota has not been investigated.
Four groups of mouse pups (n=8 in each group) from differently colonized dams were analyzed with respect to expression of genes involved in mucin production (muc1-4, tff3) in ileal segments isolated on Day 1 and Day 6 after birth. Additionally, the presence of Lactobacillus and E. coli in the ileal samples was assessed by 16S rRNA gene quantification. The pups in the groups were born from dams that were either: 1) germ free (GF), 2) conventional specific pathogen free (SPF), 3) monocolonized with Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM (Lb NCFM), or 4) monocolonized with E. coli Nissle (E. coli). All data was found by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) on Applied Biosystems platforms.
Results from these studies showed interesting differences between the four tested animal groups and the two different days tested, which will be presented at the meeting. This is the first study to examine effects of different colonizing bacteria on mucus related gene expression levels in new born mice. These results may thus improve our understanding of the complex interplay between the gut microbiota and epithelial development in the very early life phases.
Accepted to change my poster presentation to an oral presentation upon request from the organizers