Writing Exercise #9

In recent years, we have seen human behaviors change and develop, with this change we see an increase in technology usage, as well as, dietary fads and a decrease in outdoors activities. The development of new technology has lead to many adolescents staying indoors. With the internet and video games that plague out generation, many children aren’t going outside to play anymore. They also aren’t participating in outdoors activities like hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping. While these activities were popular many years back, now a days it is rare to see a child participating in outdoor activities. There has also been an uptick in health consciousness but not the correct kind. Many parents follow fad diets now a days, some believe specific foods are bad for them and their children, yet they have no real allergic reaction or intolerance to the food. All of these factors could lead to a decrease in exposure to microbes.

Writing Exercise #8

Some of the most interesting and surprising things I learned about in regards to microbes and human health is that periodontitis has shown to increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  This was especially interesting to me because the article mentioned a large percentage of the population having periodontitis at some point in their lives. I also found the information regarding probiotics to be quite interesting. I wish there was more information about probiotics like how much and what types of bacteria are best for you. I would also like like to know more about the specific mechanisms behind the probiotics and how they benefit human health.

Periodontitis has shown to increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This could be especially concerning to those with gum disease and gingivitis. The good news is that gingivitis is reversible! The bad news is once a bacterial infection reaches the pulp the risk of having a stroke significantly increases. I wonder if these cases of cardiovascular disease being linked to periodontitis have any relation to tobacco use.

For my final paper I think I might focus on tobacco usage and how it can alter human microbial populations. I will most likely tie in the data showing an association between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease. I will also look to see if there is any measures that can be taken to reverse the effects, such as the use of probiotics.

Writing Exercise #7

Certain factors that may influence the colonization of the microbial community in newborn infants can be positive and/or negative. Diet is the most obvious factor that could influence colonization of the gut in pregnant women. Studies showed that mice fed a high-fat diet showed changes in their gut flora as their pregnancies progressed. It wasn’t entirely clear if these changes were positive or negative, it was just clear that the diet had an impact on the gut flora [1]. Another obvious impact on the microbial population of an infant occurs after the first trimester. There appears to be an increase in the amount of  Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, and a decrease in alpha diversity in the mom [1]. This could typically seen as bad since it isn’t consistent with that of a healthy non-pregnant woman, however, these changes are helpful for a pregnant woman because they are needed for the baby. Another influence that occurs in the third trimester are the levels of anti-inflammatory Faecalibacterium being reduced [1]. This is interesting because this bacterium is typically lower in metabolic syndrome patients which would give the impression that this would have a negative impact on the mother. However, the change is needed to prepare for the birth of the baby so it is therefore positive in terms of the birthing process. In the third trimester there were other factors that also appeared to influence the microbial population.  There was an increase in beta-diversity,  weight gain, insulin insensitivity, and an increase in fecal cytokines, which indicate inflammation. These all seemed to create changes in the microbial population that are needed to have a healthy pregnancy.

References:

  1. Nuriel-Ohayon M, Neuman H, Koren O. 2016. Microbial Changes during Pregnancy, Birth, and Infancy. Frontiers in Microbiology.

Writing Exercise #6

As much as I know about the health care field, I am aware that I don’t go to the doctor as often as I should in terms of preventative care. Part of the reason for this is because I haven’t had any serious illnesses requiring medical intervention. When I get the common cold, I feel that I should let my body fight it off on its own. Unless I have a high grade fever, tachycardia, vomiting, and diarrhea (to the point of dehydration), feel that I have the flu or pneumonia, I typically won’t go. I know that for viral respiratory illnesses the treatment is to typically wait it out.

My general rule of thumb is if I haven’t started feeling better after a week or so, I’ll consider getting it checked out. I am not one to run to the doctors over every cough and sneeze. I feel that antibiotics are typically over-prescribed and can do more harm than good if you are not careful. A couple of the pediatric research studies I am working on are testing 10 vs 5 days of antibiotics and antibiotic vs placebo to see if the guidelines we have for treating certain illnesses, such as ear infections and sinusitis, are the most beneficial. While the final analysis of our data isn’t complete, I feel that once it is, I will be more concrete in my feelings towards antibiotic treatment.

Writing Exercise #5

In terms of the food and nutrition I choose to consume, I typically go with whatever is cheap and filling, usually my first pick is cheesy rice with hot sauce. This is because I am your typical ‘broke college student’. While I choose to coat the my rice with shredded mozzarella cheese, there is an unintentional benefit from the cheese. Cheese provides my body with protein and good bacteria. However, on occasion, I make some intentional health conscientious decisions.  Every so often, when I am feeling extra health aware, I’ll opt to purchase fermented tea. Most people are more aware with the brand name, Kombucha. I know that with my typical day to day diet I am probably not consuming all of the nutrients and antioxidants that I should be so I have started drinking probiotics. My flavor of choice is by the brand Kevita and it’s pineapple peach. I personally feel that soda is too sweet, unhealthy, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. However, fermented tea has just a touch of carbonation and there’s something oddly satisfying about the hint of vinegar in the flavor. I also love knowing that I am helping my digestive track to foster a healthier microbial environment.

Writing Exercise #4- Behaviors that could influence gut microbiota

One potential behavior that may influence the gut microbes in an individual is over eating to the point of developing obesity. Obesity has shown to be linked to different gut microbes than that of a normal, healthy human. This change in microbial population has shown to be detrimental to an individuals health because there has also been a linkage between the gut microbiota, insulin resistance, and chronic inflammation [1].

Another potential behavior that could influence the gut microbial population is the living environment. One research study showed that co-housing could potentially alter the microbial environment. The study found that OB mice microbial population was invaded by their Ln cage mates microbial population, more specifically by the bacteroidetes. I feel that more research needs to be done to determine the health impacts but for now I feel that this effect is fairly neutral [2].

Some other potential behaviors that could alter gut microbiota are smoking, drinking, and the amount of exercise an individual participates in. As for the smoking and drinking, I would assume that the effects would be detrimental to the gut microbiota, since smoking and drinking are heavily linked to disease. As for increased levels of exercise, this could have a positive on the gut microbial population but more research would need to be done.

References:

  1. Boulange C, Nevas A, Chilloux J, Nicholson J, Dumas M. (2016). Impact of the gut microbiota on inflammation, obesity, and metabolic disease. Retrieved from: Micro Comm Gut Obesity_Poulange et al 2016. Pdf.
  2. Ridaura, V. K., J. J. Faith, F. E. Rey, J. Cheng, A. E. Duncan, A. L. Kau, N. W. Griffin, V. Lombard, B. Henrissat, J. R. Bain, M. J. Muehlbauer, O. Ilkayeva, C. F. Semenkovich, K. Funai, D. K. Hayashi, B. J. Lyle, M. C. Martini, L. K. Ursell, J. C. Clemente, W. Van, W. A. Walters, R. Knight, C. B. Newgard, A. C. Heath, and J. I. Gordon. “Gut Microbiota from Twins Discordant for Obesity Modulate Metabolism in Mice.” Science (New York, N.Y.). September 06, 2013. Accessed April 29, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24009397.

Writing Exercise #3

Out of the six HPV strains that are classified as “carcinogenic to humans” I think the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) should be covered in a new treatment.

It would be well worth it to design a preventative vaccine for HCV which should be administered before infection in order to prevent infection. HCV would be well worth designing a new treatment for because there is a relatively high incidence rate in the United States and the virus is proven to be fatal. It is associated with asymptomatic acute hepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and possibly Cholangiocarcinoma. Its association with chronic hepatitis, liver cancer, and HCC are well worth the cost and benefit. The list for a liver transplant is long and many patients die before receiving one. I feel that a new treatment for HCV would be worth the cost.

I would also argue for Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV) since it is know to be associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), however, the incidence of KS is so rare that the cost may not be worth the benefit. The same goes for Merkel cell polyomavirus. Merkel cell carcinoma is fatal but it is usually only found in elderly, immunosuppressed patients. It sounds harsh but in most Merkel cell carcinoma cases, a new treatment may not be worth the cost. The same goes for Epstein Barr virus, there is an association with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Hodgkins lymphoma, and extranodal NK/T-cell lymphomas but out of the six HPV, the cost may not be worth the benefit due to the nature of the diseases it’s associated with and the incidence of the disease in the United States.

Of course, if money were not a factor I would say treat them all, but in this case, I feel that out of the six HPV strains known to be carinogenic, HCV should be treated first.

References:

Sarid R, Gao SJ. 2011. Viruses and Human Cancer: From Detection to Causality. Cancer Lett 305(2): 218-227.

Writing Exercise #2- Rhetorical precis for Li et al 2007

1) In the review article “Symbiotic gut microbes modulate human
metabolic phenotypes” (2007), Li et al explains that the gut microbiome can be linked to various metabolic phenotypes through  the use of transgenomics and statistics. 2) Li et al demonstrates that population microbial cometabolic differences are reinforced by the structural differences found in the gut microbiomes of different nationalities, they also discuss functional metagenomics and how bacteria, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii,  can alter host metabolism and therefore affect host health. 3) The purpose of this paper  was to inform the reader about functional metagenomics so that it can be used to test the systemic effects related to drugs and diet in order to refine treatment options available in health care. 4) This paper provides a strong foundation for those looking to further their education on functional metagenomics, how they can be used to analyze the gut microbiome, and potentially refine how we treat patients in health care.

 

References:

Li M, Wang B, Zhang M, Rantalainen M, Wang S, Zhou H, Zhang Y, Shen J, Pang X, Zhang M, Wei H, Chen Y, Lu H, Zuo J, Su M, Qiu Y, Jia W, Xiao C, Smith L, Yang S, Holmes E, Tang H, Zhao G,  Nicholson J, Li L, Zhao L. 2007. Symbiotic gut microbes modulate human metabolic phenotypesPNAS 105:2117-2122.

Writing Exercise #1 – Non-infectious Microbial Diseases

Non-infectious Microbial Diseases

A non-infectious microbial disease sounds like an oxymoron. I must admit, when I think of non-infectious diseases my mind goes to non contagious diseases that are typically caused by genetic and environmental factors, such as diet and age. For example, kidney disease and heart disease. Neither of these are known to be caused by microbes. Microbial diseases are usually contagious in nature.

The first few diseases that come to my mind when I think of microbes are the flu, measles, chicken pox, strep throat, malaria, urinary tract infections, and the list goes on! The issue is that all of these maladies are infectious. They are caused by microorganisms that are considered to be contagious and therefore are infectious.

However, the real topic to be discussed is not, whether or not microbes are causing non-infectious diseases. It’s whether they are influencing them. Which I must say, of course they are! It is well known that our bodies are flourishing with microbes, both inside and out. It would next to impossible to prove that these microbes have absolutely no influence on our general health and well being. There are many factors that go into illness, infectious or not, and my background in science leads me to believe that there probably is some sort of affect resulting from microbes. However, I am unsure of the specifics regarding microbial influence on non-infectious diseases.

I am curious to learn more about the topic of non-infectious microbial diseases because as it stands right now, I can’t think of any non-infectious diseases in particular that are associated with microbes!