Indian gut flora is different from that in West: Study

An ambitious,first-of-its-kind study on gut flora (microbes) in the Indian population clearly shows that the microbes could well be different from that found in the Western population.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Published: September 18, 2012 3:34 am

An ambitious,first-of-its-kind study on gut flora (microbes) in the Indian population clearly shows that the microbes could well be different from that found in the Western population. The findings detected some “new” bacteria implying that the link between gut flora and certain diseases in the West may not hold true for Indians.

The study has been accepted for publication in BioMedCentral (Microbiology).

“We have identified certain new gut bacteria,which are not harmful,in the Indian population not found in the western world. This observation requires further studies in defining the gut flora in our population,” Dr Yogesh Shouche,scientist at the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS),Pune,told The Indian Express.

“Microbes in our gut play a huge role in overall health,” says Shouche. “Trillions of bacteria present in the gut help break down foodstuffs that our cells are not capable of doing…our knowledge of these microbes is largely limited,” Shouche said.

The researchers collected stool samples from generations of two Pune-based families. An eight-month-old infant,a 26-year-old and a 56-year-old,all of them male,of one family,and a 14-year-old,a 42-year-old and a 62-year-old,all female,from another family were involved in the yearlong study.

“It is a miniscule sample size but the first such attempt is significant as here we also observed that gut flora changes with age,” says Shouche. After isolating anaerobic bacteria from stool samples,researchers found that 30 per cent of the bacteria isolated was entirely new,a finding not been reported anywhere in the world,suggesting that Indian individuals harbour novel bacteria,says Shouche.

Modern techniques like DNA sequencing and and qPCR were used in the study. “We observed that gut flora changes with age within members of the same family. Different bacteria were dominant in gut flora of individuals with varying age. Over 90 per cent of the bacteria in human gut,collectively known as the gut microbiota,come from just two groups-the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes,” Shouche said.

Scientists observed a consistent decrease in Firmicutes and increase in Bacteroidetes with increasing age in the subjects. This pattern is in variance with previously reported pattern in the European population. The findings suggest that the microbes in Indian individuals are different from populations around the world,he said.

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