2020-03-17 09:51
by Kristin Neumann
  Last edited: 2020-06-19 11:04

Virus infections - Your microbiome protects you!

Your microbiome protects you!
Your microbiome protects you! (Pic.: © eduardrobert - stock.adobe.com)

Our microbiome is an important factor when it comes to our immune system. If the microbiome is intact, our general health benefits as well. These correlations were soon found to be true for any kind of discomfort, now, for current reasons: does our microbiome also protect us from viral infections? The answer is: yes!

An intact microbiome strengthens our immune system. Researchers from Michigan, USA have taken a closer look at the respiratory lung microbiome in connection with viral infections (in this case influenza). In fact, previous studies in mice and humans have shown that the respiratory microbiome influences susceptibility to viruses. For example, in one study, antibiotic administration in mice led to degeneration of the bronchial epithelium, making the mice more susceptible to serious viral infections.

Pre- and probiotic studies in newborns have repeatedly shown that pre and probiotic administration reduces susceptibility to viral respiratory diseases in children.

The first points of contact for respiratory viruses are naturally the upper and lower respiratory tract. These are covered by complex microbial communities like a film, which interact directly or indirectly with the invading virus. The commensal microbiome can then transmit signals to the immune system, which then reacts accordingly. Again, the virus infection can lead to changes in the microbial composition.

In this study, correlations between the respiratory microbiome and the risk of influenza virus infection in humans were investigated for the first time. 717 participants from 144 households were examined 5 times within 13 days. The microbiomes examined could be divided into 5 different microbiome groups. These different groups showed that the composition of the nasopharyngeal microbiome is age-dependent. The microbiome of younger study participants was less stable overall than that of older participants and tended to be more susceptible to the influenza virus overall.

Although there was a relationship between the microbial composition of the microbiome and susceptibility to influenza infection, no differences were found in the diversity of the microbiome, for example. Further studies are needed to investigate precise mechanisms. However, a look at previous studies shows that an impaired microbiome increases susceptibility to viral infection. Furthermore, viral infection led to changes in the microbiome, mostly caused by secondary infections with Staphylococci and Streptococci.

These and previous studies are a continued incentive to further research, in addition to vaccinations, into the therapy of the microbiome to reduce the risk of infection with respiratory viruses.

Until then, protect and care for your microbiome with a varied diet (preferably not canned), sufficient exercise in the fresh air (in the forest the infection rate with Covid-19 is certainly low) and, despite panic, wash your hands rather than disinfect.

Smoking and antibacterial mouthwashes are especially harmful to the respiratory microbiome, more information here: Watch your mouth! Understand the oral microbiome and treat it right.

All the best to everyone out there, despite severe restrictions!

Kristin Neumann, Autor
Kristin Neumann, PhD

Hello, I am a microbiologist by profession. I studied (molecular) biology because I was always curious about how life functions...

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