Health Watch -- Infections: Intestinal Breakdown and Infection

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we're talking about infections and research to understand them better, treat them, and prevent them. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found a mechanism that helps prevent intestinal breakdown and infections in patients with certain intestinal conditions.

Bile helps keep bacteria levels in the small intestine low while also helping the body absorb nutrients and protecting the intestinal lining. With conditions such as jaundice or when patients are fed through a tube, no bile is produced. The intestinal lining then breaks down and bacteria may pass into the body, causing a blood infection. But Dr. Steven Kliewer, a UT Southwestern molecular biologist, says giving bile orally doesn't work. A particular protein is needed to bind to bile acids to activate genes that protect the intestinal lining and attack bacteria.


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March 2006

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