Immune system cells promote the survival of beneficial bacteria in the appendix. Image:
Read the words The worm appendage is not a useless appendage to the gut: it houses beneficial bacteria that prevent dangerous pathogens from spreading in the human digestive tract. This was discovered by US researchers around William Parker, when they examined the coexistence of different bacteria in the intestine. When a diarrheal disease completely clears the intestines, the bacteria from the appendix populate the entire digestive tract, taking the place of survival for dangerous microorganisms, the researchers explain. On the inside of the human gut is a mixture of bacteria, mucus and immune system molecules. This so-called biofilm is particularly pronounced in the appendix. Here live harmless bacteria that are not combated by the immune system. Rather, the cells of the immune system help these bacteria to survive, according to the scientists.

Some diarrhea causes, however, that the intestine is completely emptied. The biofilm with the beneficial bacteria is thus removed from large parts of the digestive tract, explain the scientists. In the appendix, however, the benign bacteria can hide more easily and thus outlast the diarrheal disease. When the remaining intestine is completely deflated, the bacteria emerge from their hiding place and spread throughout the digestive tract, explains Parker. This prevents them from settling on dangerous bacteria.

In countries with high hygienic standards, the protection by the bacteria of the worm appendage but probably superfluous, the researchers. Since significantly fewer people suffer from infections of the intestine, the beneficial bacteria of the worm appendage are used much less often. The immune system is also somewhat under-utilized, explains Parker. As a result, it tends to overreact and often cause inflammation of the appendix, the so-called appendicitis.

Communication from Duke University, Durham Original work by researchers: William Parker (Duke University) et al .: Journal of Theoretical Biology, online pre-publication ddp / Anja Baster's ad


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