Antibiotics can hurt your gut microbiome, leading to a deadly fungal infection — study

Killing fungal infection the same number of people get tuberculosis each year. They mainly hold vulnerable people because they have a defective immune system caused by an underlying disease, such as cancer, or a viral infection, such as HIV or Covid-19. Our new study shows that antibiotics can cause immune system defects that increase the risk of dangerous fungal infections.

Candida Nấm is a fungus that is a common cause of fungal infections in humans. Thrush is caused by a yeast infection Candida Nấm. But it can also cause a life-threatening blood infection called invasive candidiasis.

One of the risk factors for invasive candidiasis is antibiotic use. When we take antibiotics, we kill some of our gut bacteria. This can create space for intestinal fungi (such as Candida Nấm) grow up. And if your intestines are damaged by chemotherapy or surgery, then Candida Nấm can get out of the intestines and cause a blood infection.

With this fungal infection, it is common for the kidneys to become the target of the infection.KATERYNA KON / SCIENTIFIC IMAGE LIBRARY / Science Photo Gallery / Getty Images

However, the most common way that people get a Candida infection is not from their intestines, but their skin. Patients in the ICU who have an intravenous catheter can develop invasive candidiasis, especially if they have been treated with antibiotics.

We wanted to find out exactly why antibiotics make fungal infections like invasive candidiasis more likely. To investigate, we treated the mice with a cocktail of broad-spectrum antibiotics and then infected them with Candida Nấm mushrooms. We compared them with a control group of mice that we had Candida infection but did not treat with a mixture of antibiotics.

We found that antibiotic treatment made the mice sicker when they had fungal infections. In this case of fungal infection, the kidneys are usually the target of the infection and the mice get sick because their kidneys stop working. But that is not the case here. Although the antibiotics made the mice sicker, they were controlling fungal infections in the kidneys as well as the mice that weren’t given antibiotics. So what made them sick?

It turned out that the antibiotics caused a defect in the antifungal immune response, especially in the gut. Mice treated with antibiotics had much higher levels of fungal infections in the gut than untreated mice. The consequence of this is that the gut bacteria then escape into the bloodstream. The antibiotic-treated mice were now infected with both bacteria and fungi. This made them much sicker than mice that didn’t take antibiotics.

To find out why this is happening, we analyzed immune cells in the gut to find out how antibiotics cause a faulty antifungal immune response. Immune cells in the gut make small proteins called cytokines that act as messages to other cells. For example, cytokines called IL-17 and GM-CSF help immune cells fight fungal infections. We found that antibiotics reduced the amount of this cytokine in the gut, which we think is part of the reason why the antibiotic-treated mice were unable to control fungal infections in the gut or prevent bacteria from escaping. go out.

Candida fungi can cause life-threatening blood infections.Scientific Gallery / Alamy Stock Photo

Potential solution

Some of these cytokines can be given to patients as an immune-boosting drug to help fight infection. To see if this is an option for antibiotic-treated patients at risk for fungal infections, we injected antibiotic-treated mice with some of these cytokines and found that that we can make them less sick. Our findings mean we may have a way to help patients who need antibiotics and are at risk for fungal infections.

Next, we wanted to find out if there are specific antibiotics that increase the risk of fungal infections. We treated mice with different antibiotics and found that vancomycin, an antibiotic commonly used to treat C diff infections in hospitals, made the mice worse after a fungal infection. . Vancomycin clears immune-enhancing bacteria from the gut microbiome that is needed to instruct the immune system to produce IL-17.

Are any of these studies relevant to humans? Our analysis of patient records shows this to be the case. We reviewed a large database of hospital records and found that similar bacterial/fungal co-infections can occur in people after they are treated with antibiotics.

Given the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, it is more important to use antibiotics carefully. Our research shows that antibiotics may provide an additional risk of dangerous fungal infections. However, antibiotics are a risk factor that we can control. Fungal infections are still an important human health problem, but studies like ours help us understand how to fight them.

This article was originally published on Conversation by Rebecca A. Drummond at the University of Birmingham. Read the original text here. Antibiotics can hurt your gut microbiome, leading to a deadly fungal infection — study

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