Further reasons to be cautious of using antibiotics, and more support for finding beneficial bacteria and other microbes to outcompete the "bad" microbes. I especially liked the last paragraph that stressed for a healthy microbiota (microbial community):"Instead of trying to kill the "bad" bacteria causing an illness, a healthy and functioning microbiota may be able to outcompete the unwanted microbes and improve immune function." From Medical Xpress:
Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that antibiotics have an impact on the microorganisms that live in an animal's gut that's more broad and complex than previously known. The findings help to better explain some of the damage these medications can do, and set the stage for new ways to study and offset those impacts.
Researchers have known for some time that antibiotics can have unwanted side effects, especially in disrupting the natural and beneficial microbiota of the gastrointestinal system. But the new study helps explain in much more detail why that is happening, and also suggests that powerful, long-term antibiotic use can have even more far-reaching effects. Scientists now suspect that antibiotic use, and especially overuse, can have unwanted effects on everything from the immune system to glucose metabolism, food absorption, obesity, stress and behavior.
The issues are rising in importance, since 40 percent of all adults and 70 percent of all children take one or more antibiotics every year, not to mention their use in billions of food animals. Although when used properly antibiotics can help treat life-threatening bacterial infections, more than 10 percent of people who receive the medications can suffer from adverse side effects.
This research used a "cocktail" of four antibiotics frequently given to laboratory animals, and studied the impacts."Prior to this most people thought antibiotics only depleted microbiota and diminished several important immune functions that take place in the gut," Morgun said. "Actually that's only about one-third of the picture. They also kill intestinal epithelium. Destruction of the intestinal epithelium is important because this is the site of nutrient absorption, part of our immune system and it has other biological functions that play a role in human health."
The research also found that antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant microbes caused significant changes in mitochondrial function, which in turn can lead to more epithelial cell death....Mitochondria plays a major role in cell signaling, growth and energy production, and for good health they need to function properly.
Morgun and Schulzhenko's research group also found that one of the genes affected by antibiotic treatment is critical to the communication between the host and microbe. "When the host microbe communication system gets out of balance it can lead to a chain of seemingly unrelated problems," Morgun said. Digestive dysfunction is near the top of the list, with antibiotic use linked to such issues as diarrhea and ulcerative colitis. But new research is also finding links to obesity, food absorption, depression, immune function, sepsis, allergies and asthma.
Healthy microbiota may also be another way to address growing problems with antibiotic resistance, Morgun said. Instead of trying to kill the "bad" bacteria causing an illness, a healthy and functioning microbiota may be able to outcompete the unwanted microbes and improve immune function.