AG Breitrück

Intestinal dysbiosis (or microbial imbalance) in different diseases

The intestinal microbiota is a complex ecosystem consisting of over a thousand bacterial species reaching its highest concentration in the colon. In adults, a healthy intestinal microbiota is dominated by the phyla Bacteriodetes and Firmicutes and shows a high diversity and richness. Additional members represented in the gut include species from the phyla Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria. These so-called “commensals” are essential for the host metabolism, nutrition function, maturation of the immune system and protection against pathogens. During human lifetime, different factors, such as mode of delivery, diet, geography, antibiotic use and the development of gastrointestinal diseases can influence the composition of the intestinal microbiota. A disruption of this ecosystem, a so-called intestinal dysbiosis favors the development and/or is accompanied by intestinal diseases like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or Clostridium Difficile Infection (CDI). Even in non-intestinal diseases like Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) an intestinal dysbiosis could be observed.

Our research is focused on the composition of the intestinal microbiota in different diseases and how these changes correlate with the disease status.
In this project we are collaborating with Dr. Sebastian Koball (Department of Nephrologie), Dr. Holger Schäffler (Department of Gastroenterology), Prof. Steffen Mitzner (Fraunhofer Unit EXIM).

Development of a functionalized Design Microbiome (supported by DAMP foundation)

Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), collectively termed inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), represent chronic relapsing and remitting disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. IBD is a complex disease and although the etiology is not fully understood there is substantial evidence that overreacting immune responses to intestinal microbiota in genetically predisposed individuals is substantially involved in IBD pathogenesis. The composition of the microbiota in IBD patients differs significantly from healthy individuals. The overall bacterial diversity is decreased. Moreover, bacteria from the Proteobacteria phylum are increased, and those from the Firmicutes phylum are decreased. Since the intestinal dysbiosis contributes substantially to the aetiology and pathogenesis of IBD, the modification of the intestinal microbiome represents a promising therapy option.

Our research is focused on the development of a functionalized design microbiome that targets the dysbiosis and inflammatory processes. The therapeutic potential will be investigated in appropriate cell culture models and in an experimental colitis model. These findings will help to pave the way for clinical trials in IBD patients. 
In this project we are collaborating with Prof. Steffen Mitzner (Fraunhofer Unit EXIM) and industry partner.