This under the direction of the University and the Inselspital Bern. The researchers report on this in the journal “Nature”. When an infection occurs, the immune system produces antibodies in order to eliminate pathogens that cause disease. In particular, many of the so-called IgA antibodies, which are mainly found in mucous membranes, are also directed against the good intestinal bacteria. In this way, they prevent intestinal diseases, for example.
Researchers led by Tim Rollenske and Andrew Macpherson from the University and Inselspital Bern have now used a mouse model to investigate how antibodies make it difficult for a type of Escherichia coli bacteria. “We were able to show that the immune system specifically recognizes these bacteria and restricts both growth and activity,” said Rollenske, according to a communication from the Bern institutions. The IgA antibodies, for example, reduce the mobility of the bacteria or block the uptake of sugar components for the metabolism of the microorganisms.
How exactly the immune system keeps the benign bacteria in balance and at the same time repels pathogenic intruders has not yet been conclusively clarified, according to the researchers. Rollenske emphasized, however, that a basic understanding of this mechanism is important for vaccine development, for example: “If we understand how and where exactly the antibodies recognize the microorganisms in the intestine, we can also design vaccines against pathogenic organisms in a more targeted manner,” he said.