The interaction between beneficial bacteria and the host is called symbiosis. Furthermore, symbiosis depends on multiple factors such as microbial diversity, nutritional intake, lifestyle factors, and age. Consequently, this interaction leads to an adequate immune response, protects the gut’s epithelial integrity, reduces inflammation, and prevents the entry of pathogens. However, this win-win situation needs a closer look into the syntropy between microbial strains. Microbial syntrophy reflects in a wide variety of gastrointestinal benefits that serve a crucial role in orthomolecular medicine.
- Means cross-feeding. It comes from the Greek etymology: syn meaning together and trophe referring to nourishment. In biology, syntrophy describes the phenomenon where one species lives off the products of another species.
Syntrophy promoted by Akkermansia municiphila.
Akkermansia municiphila is the only member of the species Verrucomicrobia, and it has the singular characteristic of degrading the host’s mucosa. Consequently, this characteristic has a pathological component, but studies categorize A. municiphila as a beneficial bacterial strain. Indeed, the syntrophy promoted by A. municiphila and other colonic microbiota promotes gastrointestinal benefits and improves epithelial function.
As a complex ecosystem, the gastrointestinal tract has evolved to preserve its function. This action has been possible by the interaction and evolution of colonizing bacteria and the ever-changing dietary habits that form part of the developmental environment of these bacterial strains. Furthermore, complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber are the principal substrate promoters of these bacterial species that colonize the mucosal layer of the intestine.
Additionally, the mucus layer that covers the gut epithelial surface can be used as an endogenous prebiotic. This utilization can only be possible in the presence of A. municiphila, which transforms mucus into 1, 2-propanediol, propionate, and acetate. Furthermore, this mucosal utilization promotes the availability of glycans and acetate that are the substrate for butyrogenic bacteria.
Syntrophy as a metabolic network: Clinical applications.
The metabolic network results in beneficial bacteria growth, and it is made possible by A. municiphila phagocytic habits. Measuring the syntrophy was part of the objectives of a study performed by Belzer et al.
This study measured the growth of certain bacterial species that produced butyrate in the mucosal layer in the presence of A. municiphila. Afterward, these results were compared to the bacterial growth or butyrate production in an environment without Akkermansia municiphila.
In the cocultures series, equal amounts of A. municiphila and butyrate producers were set up to test the production of acetate or sugars as a product of mucin degradation.
Butyrate producers: Know your commensals.
This experiment resulted in bacterial growth of all three species, as well as butyrate production. The abundance of A. cacae increased 100-fold, and the maximum amount of butyrate was produced after eleven days of incubation.
Faecalibacterium prausnitzi in combination with A. municiphila resulted in increased production of butyrate after eight days of incubation. However, the growth of this bacterial species was slow.
Microbial metabolic networking or syntrophy is the endogenous prebiotic promoted by mucus degradation. Indeed, the microbial diversity and the different metabolic by-products create an ecosystem that supports growth and stability. In turn, this syntrophy reflects in an adequate immune response. – Ana Paola Rodriguez Arciniega, MS
Belzer, Clara et al. “Microbial Metabolic Networks at the Mucus Layer Lead to Diet-Independent Butyrate and Vitamin B12 Production by Intestinal Symbionts.” mBio vol. 8,5 e00770-17. 19 Sep. 2017, doi:10.1128/mBio.00770-17
Additional Online Links & Resources (Available 24/7)
Online Appointments or Consultations: https://bit.ly/Book-Online-Appointment
Online Physical Injury / Accident Intake Form: https://bit.ly/Fill-Out-Your-Online-History
Online Functional Medicine Assessment: https://bit.ly/functionmed
The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional, licensed physician, and not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the musculoskeletal system’s injuries or disorders. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and issues that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. Read More.
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, CTG*
Licensed in Texas & New Mexico