Research highlights how antibiotics enable C. diff infections

Growth of Clostridium difficile, the harmful bacteria responsible for many hospital-acquired infections, is normally inhibited by bile acids altered by healthy microbes in the gut. However, when patients are administered antibiotics that kill-off those healthy microbes, they can lay the groundwork for an environment hospitable to C. diff infections, according to a study from mSphere.

Researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and North CarolinaStateUniversity at Raleigh found primary bile acids in the small intestine allowed harmful bacteria to grow regardless of antibiotic treatments. But when those same spores reached the large intestine, home to secondary bile acids, the bacteria were stopped in their tracks. After antibiotic treatment, which eliminated the intestinal bacteria that bolster secondary acids, C. diff was able to grow quickly.

"[T]argeting growth of C. diff will prove most important for future therapeutics and that antibiotic-related changes are organ specific," the authors conclude. "Understanding how the gut microbiota regulates bile acids throughout the intestine will aid the development of future therapies for C. diff infection and other metabolically relevant disorders such as obesity and diabetes."

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