The intestinal microbiota has more than 100 trillion gut bacteria, but far from being harmful, they play an essential role in keeping us healthy. A recent study seems to have found that Vitamin A is crucial in maintaining a healthy intestinal flora. According to the researchers, to regulate the immune system, gut bacteria refine the levels of a protein responsible for the conversion of vitamin A.
Many studies looked at the link between intestinal bacteria and immunity. The findings suggest that these interactions help control how our body responds to disease. The new research, published in Immunity, led by Shipra Vaishnava of Brown University in Providence, in the US, found that moderate levels of vitamin A in the intestine prevent the immune system from becoming overactive.
These findings on the role of vitamin A may have significant implications for devising new therapies for autoimmune conditions and other inflammatory diseases that affect the gut.
Vitamin A Is Crucial For Healthy Gut Bacteria and Immune System
Vaishnava and his colleagues noticed that the gut bacteria regulate the immune responses by adjusting a protein, the so-called Rdh7, which activates vitamin A in the gastrointestinal tract. Besides, the researchers uncovered that the bacteria reduce the expression of Rdh7 and also helps the liver to store a more considerable amount of vitamin A.
The scientists also revealed that other elements of the immune system, such as immunoglobulin A cells and T cells, remained the same after reducing Rdh7 in mice. That indicates that Rdh7 is key to the immune system’s response to bacteria.
“Many of these diseases are attributed to increased immune response or immune activation, but we have found a new way that bacteria in our gut can buffer the immune response,” Vaishnava said. “This research may be critical in determining therapies for autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or other inflammatory bowel diseases, as well as vitamin A deficiency,” the expert added.