Intestinal Bacteria: A Delicate Balance | The Institute for Creation Research
Intestinal Bacteria: A Delicate Balance

Certain intestinal bacteria can spur an imbalance in immune system cells, leading to an inflammation of the digestive tract, according to a new study out of New York University.

“Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)…is one of the most prevalent gastrointestinal diseases in the United States”1 and involves redness, swelling, and pain in the affected area. Mammalian intestinal lining contains cells that specialize in either promoting or calming inflammation. More inflammation-promoting T-helper 17 cells (Th17) are produced when the body needs protection, and the pacifying T cells (Treg cells) dominate when it does not.

In a healthy immune system, the Th17 and Treg cells balance each other. When too many Th17 are produced, IBD can result. Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center, whose work appeared in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, tested mice and discovered that certain kinds of bacteria regulated the Th17:Treg balance.2

The exact bacterial species responsible for instigating Th17, and therefore inflammation, in the mouse digestive systems has not been identified, but it belongs to the broad “cytophaga-flavobacter-bacteroidetes” group, which includes bacteria that help digestion and immunity function properly. Targeting the precise species promises to be difficult, but it is the necessary next step in finding new treatments for IBD and other gastrointestinal diseases.

The digestive processes that convert food into fuel involve intricate interactions between the body’s organs and their resident bacteria. The fact that imbalances occur is an indication that such systems must be well-tuned in order to function properly. Skeptics often argue that imperfections in nature mean that God cannot exist. The presence of unbalanced systems, however, is entirely consistent with Scripture, which describes “this present evil world”3 as fallen and in need of restoration.

The created world we live in still retains so much of its former “perfection” that, even with its imbalances, it must have been emplaced by a wise Creator. After all, imbalance implies balance, and balance implies design. “Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?”4

References

  1. Bugs in the Gut Trigger Production of Important Immune Cells, NYU Study Finds. NYU Langone Medical Center press release, October 15, 2008.
  2. Ivaylo, I. I. et al. 2008. Specific Microbiota Direct the Differentiation of IL-17-Producing T-Helper Cells in the Mucosa of the Small Intestine. Cell Host & Microbe. 4 (4): 337-349.
  3. Galatians 1:4.
  4. Job 12:8-9.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.

Article posted on October 24, 2008.

The Latest
APOLOGETICS
Christ’s Providence Is Clearly Seen in Bird Migrations
Just as monkeys can’t accidently type Shakespeare texts, birds can’t migrate by evolutionary luck, despite imagined eons of time for “lucky”...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Snowflakes
by Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
The Gift of God Himself
Each Christmas we remember how deeply God loves us. His wondrous plan of salvation—first set in motion in the Garden of Eden—was miraculously...

ACTS & FACTS
Early Land Plant Evolution?
In a recent Science article, two evolutionists consider land plants (embryophytes) to have evolved from stoneworts (charophyte algae).1 A...

ACTS & FACTS
Biblical Creation and Intellectual Foolishness
In a recent interview discussing his new book In Quest of the Historical Adam, philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig acknowledged his...

ACTS & FACTS
Are Birds “Cousins” to Reptiles?
Are today’s birds genealogical “cousins” to today’s reptiles due to a shared evolutionary ancestry? No. However, birds and...

ACTS & FACTS
Haleakala National Park: One of Many Young-Looking Volcanoes
You can start the day atop the cold peak of Mt. Haleakala and end it on a warm beach on Maui. The sprawling volcanic mountain rises 10,000 feet above...

ACTS & FACTS
The Oceans Point to a Young Earth
by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D.* Over 70% of Earth's surface is covered by water, most of which is marine and contained in...

ACTS & FACTS
Jesus Christ Is Our Perfect Mediator
We’ll never get bored throughout eternity. There is always something wonderfully new to learn about our precious Lord Jesus, the uplifting Holy...

DAYS OF PRAISE DEVOTIONALS
Winter 2021
...