Gut microbiome studies have powered their way to the top of basic gastroenterology science, expanding the understanding of how the microbiome can interact with epithelial cells and other components of the gut to promote health or disease and dysfunction. Reflecting that trend, half of the abstracts that will be presented during Sunday’s AGA Basic Science Plenary deal with commensal or pathogenic microbes.

Linda C. Samuelson, PhD

Linda C. Samuelson, PhD

“These are the six of the best basic GI science abstracts submitted for DDW® and the most significant basic science that you are going to see in Chicago this week,” said Linda C. Samuelson, PhD, the John. A. Williams professor of gastrointestinal physiology, professor of molecular and integrative physiology, professor of internal medicine in gastroenterology and associate director of the Center for Organogenesis at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor.

Dr. Samuelson, who serves as vice chair of the AGA Institute Council Cellular & Molecular Gastroenterology Section, will moderate the plenary session with Jerrold R. Turner MD, PhD, senior pathologist in the departments of pathology and medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and editor-in-chief of AGA’s journal Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

One study that will be presented examines how commensal bacteria regulate serotonin transporters in the gut to modulate serotonin homeostasis, which affects motility and a variety of inflammatory and diarrheal diseases. Early data suggest the potential for probiotic treatment to alter serotonin levels and affect motility.

Another study reports successful delivery of a protein derived from Lactobacillus, a common commensal bacteria species, using synthetic beads. Protein-loaded beads triggered growth hormone activity in a mouse model, accelerating weight gain and intestinal maturation in immature mice. The system could form the basis for targeted therapeutic delivery, Dr. Samuelson said.

Gut responses to the enteric pathogen rotavirus will be examined in a third abstract presentation. Rotavirus infection of genetically engineered mice or human organoids showed increases in intestinal stem cell proliferation to accelerate epithelial cell restitution.

A fourth abstract expands the boundaries of intracellular communication via exosomes, membrane-bound particles that transport cellular components to move information within the gut or communicate with cells throughout the body. The abstract looks at neutotransmitter-induced exosomes that regulate colitis pathology via delivery of a microRNA.

In another presentation, researchers will report the results of a genetic study using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing and organoid technology to explore the genetic changes at work in serrated colon cancer. The researchers created “seratoid” tumors in vitro, then implanted them in mouse models to examine the role of specific genetic changes on tumor growth and invasive potential.

A final study examines the role of a gene previously associated with autoimmune diseases in inflammatory bowel disease. New data indicates that the gene acts to regulate inflammatory pathways in the gut by modifying T cell function.

“There is something in this plenary for everyone,” Dr. Samuelson said. “Not only is this the work our reviewers deemed to be the most impactful, but these studies are quite mature. We are going to see research on the cusp of breaking through to a major discovery.”

Please refer to the DDW Mobile App or the Program section in Sunday’s DDW Daily News for additional details on this and other DDW events.