Incomplete recovery of human gut flora with repeated antibiotics
The article’s focus is on the indigenous human microbiota, which is essential to the health of the human host. Microbiota are cells found in the gut of mammals. Mammals depend on these microbial ecosystems to assist in digestion, providing vitamins to the host, resisting pathogens, and regulating metabolism and immune system (Dethlefsen and Relman, 1). Modern humans interact with microbiota in ways that are unprecedented in humans’ evolutionary history. This is due to factors such as urbanization, global mobility, an abundance of processed foods, improved sanitation and hygiene, and particularly antibiotics. Scientists are currently concerned about the impact of antibiotics on distal gut microbiota, primarily because of the possibility that pathogens could develop antibiotic resistance. Additionally, many acute and chronic health problems are associated with antibiotic use.
Dethlefsen and Relman examine the interpersonal variation in the composition of human microbiota of three individuals before, during, and after two exposures to ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic. The authors’ findings show that microbiota are part of a dynamic and resilient ecological system, but they suggest that this system retains a memory of past disturbance and that consistent disturbances can lead to a persistent shift in the nature of this microscopic ecosystem (Dethlefsen and Relman, 1).