Intestinal bacteria may shield humans from salmonella infections, study finds

Propionate, a molecule found in gut bacteria, can inhibit the growth of Salmonella in mice and may serve as a possible new treatment for humans, according to a published in Cell Host & Microbe.

Here are four things to know:

1. Researchers at Stanford (Calif.) University studied Salmonella infections in mice and determined variations in bacteria growth were based on the natural formation of bacteria within each mouse strain's intestines.

2. Using machine learning tools, researchers identified a group of bacteria called Bacteroides that produce propionate, a byproduct of gut bacteria's metabolism process. Mice that were protected against Salmonella growth had three times the propionate in their system, researchers found.

3. They determined propionate does not trigger the immune system’s response to fight off the Salmonella, but delays the pathogen's ability to divide and spread by increasing its own internal acidity.

"Collectively, our results show that when concentrations of propionate … in the gut are high, Salmonella are unable to raise their internal pH to facilitate cellular functions required for growth," said Amanda Jacobson, the study’s lead author and graduate student in microbiology and immunology at Stanford University.

4. Researchers said these findings may explain why humans exhibit such varied reactions to Salmonella infections and could help inform future treatment strategies.

More articles on clinical leaderhip and infection control: 

Ritz, Goldfish crackers recalled over salmonella risk
44 states affected by salmonella outbreak tied to live poultry
Antibiotic-resistant salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey sickens 90

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