A common gut bacterium may break down compounds found in blueberries, black tea and other foods to boost interferon and help your immune system fight the influenza virus
In news almost guaranteed to be joyfully and profitably misrepresented by the dietary supplement industry and natural health gurus, a species of gut bacteria has been found that breaks down blueberries and use the components to fight influenza.
In a report published in the journal Science, a team led by Thaddeus Stappenbeck of the Washington University School of Medicine in the US finds that the bacterium, Clostridium orbiscindens, degrades flavonoids – compounds that influence colour and flavour, notably found in blueberries, black tea and red wine – and produces a metabolite that, in turn, boosts the production of interferon, a key signalling mechanism for the immune system.
To test the idea that microbial activity might boost immune responses to the flu, Stappenbeck and colleagues first combed through human gut biome samples and identified C. orbiscindens as a bug that breaks down flavonoids and makes a metabolite called desaminotyrosine (DAT), known to be involved in interferon signalling.
DAT was then administered to one of two cohorts of mice. Both groups were then infected with the virus.
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