Gut bacteria may trigger hereditary blinding eye disease

Gut bacteria may trigger hereditary blinding eye disease

On the 18th, the reporter learned from the Zhongshan Ophthalmology Center of Sun Yat-sen University that the center, in conjunction with a number of scientific research units, found that bacteria in the intestines can migrate to the retina through the intestinal barrier and eye-blood-retinal barrier destroyed by genetic mutations, thereby inducing hereditary diseases. Blinding eye disease. This research subverts the traditional belief that human eyes are sterile, opens up a new research direction related to CRB1-related genetic blinding eye diseases and intestinal microorganisms, and will bring new hope for the treatment of related genetic blinding eye diseases. . Relevant results were recently published in the international academic journal Cell.

Inherited retinal degenerative diseases are serious irreversible blinding diseases for which there is almost no cure. The disease is associated with more than 250 genes, one of which is CRB1. CRB1 gene mutation is one of the common causes of congenital melanoma and retinitis pigmentosa, but the specific pathogenic mechanism and treatment methods have not been clear before.

In order to explore the pathogenic mechanism of this eye disease, 10 years ago, the Zhongshan Ophthalmology Center of Sun Yat-sen University took the lead in launching scientific research. Conventional wisdom holds that the human eye is sterile. However, in preliminary studies, the research team found that the statement that “the interior of the human eye is completely sterile” was not accurate. They found that 7 species of bacteria were present in the retinal degeneration area, of which as many as 5 species were known intestinal bacteria.

Where do bacteria come from and why do they appear under the eyes? The research team made a bold idea and focused their research on the intestinal area with rich bacterial flora.

“To capture bacteria on very small tissues that are magnified tens of thousands of times, it is simply like finding a needle in a haystack.” Peng Shanzhen, a member of the research team and a doctor at the Zhongshan Ophthalmology Center of Sun Yat-sen University, said that she stared at the screen in the cold and dim electron microscope room from morning to night. Taking pictures, and after taking thousands of pictures, I finally saw the bacteria under the electron microscope.

This discovery opened up the research team’s thinking. “We found that CRB1 is a transmembrane protein and an important functional protein in the adhesion junction complex between cells. In layman’s terms, it allows cells to be closely connected ‘hand in hand’ to form a barrier. Once the gene mutates, it It cannot play this role.” Wei Lai, leader of the research team and visiting professor at the Zhongshan Ophthalmology Center of Sun Yat-sen University.

After in-depth research, the team found that CRB1 gene mutations can break the barrier between the intestine and the retina, allowing bacteria in the intestine to enter the eye, ultimately inducing retinal inflammation and pigmentary degeneration-like damage.

On the basis of discovering the pathogenic mechanism, the research team also conducted research on corresponding treatment methods. “Experiments show that systemic treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics or reintroducing functional CRB1 expression in the lower gastrointestinal tract can successfully prevent the occurrence and progression of eye diseases.” said Zhang Feng, a researcher at the Zhongshan Ophthalmology Center of Sun Yat-sen University.

“But it cannot be directly understood that antibiotics can treat hereditary retinal degenerative diseases. Intestinal flora plays an important role in maintaining human body functions. It is not recommended that patients with hereditary retinal diseases blindly use antibiotics for treatment.” Wei Lai emphasized, “This study found There is still a long way to go before clinical application.”

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