Infections caused by anaerobic bacteria are common, and may be serious and life-threatening. Anaerobes predominant in the bacterial flora of normal human skin and mucous membranes, and are a common cause of bacterial infections of endogenous origin. Infections due to anaerobes can evolve all body systems and sites. The predominate ones include: abdominal, pelvic, respiratory, and skin and soft tissues infections. Because of their fastidious nature, they are difficult to isolate and are often overlooked. Failure to direct therapy against these organisms often leads to clinical failures. Their isolation requires appropriate methods of collection, transportation and cultivation of specimens. Treatment of anaerobic bacterial infection is complicated by the slow growth of these organisms, which makes diagnosis in the laboratory only possible after several days, by their often polymicrobial nature and by the growing resistance of anaerobic bacteria to antimicrobial agents.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

A link between colonization of the gastrointerstinal tract with Desulfovibrio species and autism


Autism is a complex disorder with no specific diagnostic test so the disease is defined by its characteristics including cognitive defects, social, communication and behavioral problems, repetitive behaviors, unusual sensitivity to stimuli such as noise, restricted interests, and self stimulation. The incidence of this disease has increased remarkably in recent years and was 110/10,000 children (∼1%) in multiple areas of the US in 2007. The financial burden on families and communities is enormous. In terms of predisposing factors, heredity plays a role in some subjects, but it is clear that environmental factors are also important.

Environmental toxins can affect the immune system adversely. Intestinal bacteria are recognized by a few investigators as potentially important and we have proposed that certain antimicrobial drugs may be a key factor in modifying the intestinal bacterial flora adversely, selecting out potentially harmful bacteria that are normally suppressed by an intact normal intestinal flora.
Finegold  et al hypothesis that clostridia in the gut might be involved in autism because they are virulent organisms and spore-formers; spores would resist antibacterial agents so that when antibiotics were discontinued the spores would germinate and by toxin production or another mechanism lead to autism. A recent study by Finegold et al. employing the powerful pyrosequencing technique on stools of subjects with regressive autism showed that Desulfovibrio was more common in autistic subjects than in controls. The investigators  subsequently confirmed this with pilot cultural and real-time PCR studies and found siblings of autistic children had counts of Desulfovibrio that were intermediate, suggesting possible spread of the organism in the family environment.
Desulfovibrio is an anaerobic bacillus that does not produce spores but is nevertheless resistant to aerobic and other adverse conditions by other mechanisms and is commonly resistant to certain antimicrobial agents (such as cephalosporins) often used to treat ear and other infections that are relatively common in childhood. This bacterium also produces important virulence factors and its physiology and metabolism position it uniquely to account for much of the pathophysiology seen in autism. If these results on Desulfovibrio are confirmed and extended in other studies, including treatment trials with appropriate agents and careful clinical and laboratory studies, this could lead to more reliable classification of autism, a diagnostic test and therapy for regressive autism, development of a vaccine for prevention and treatment of regressive autism, tailored probiotics/prebiotics, and important epidemiologic information.



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