New study reveals the drugs that influence the intestinal microbiome the most

The intestinal microbiome is a group of bacteria that live in different parts of the intestine. This part of the body can actually contain many bacteria, hundreds of trillions of microorganisms, not all of which are known and whose influence on the body is not always known. The microbiome is gaining attention in the medical field because we are increasingly realizing that it is associated with many diseases, often not with the intestine.

But the drugs we take, even for diseases that do not affect the intestine, can be of concern to the intestinal microbiome and its metabolic potential.

For this reason, a team of researchers from Groningen University Hospital and Maastricht University Hospital has analyzed 41 categories of drugs that are frequently used to assess their effects on the intestinal microbiome. To assess these effects, they analyzed stool from 1883 human samples taken from healthy people or people with inflammatory bowel disease.

According to their findings, they are among the categories of drugs that have the greatest effect on the intestinal microbiome:

    • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) used in dyspepsia or gastric ulcer, eradication of H. pylori, gastrointestinal reflux and Barrett’s esophagus. Those who used these drugs showed an increase in bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and a higher production of fatty acids.
    • Metformin, which is used in type 2 diabetes. Those taking this category of drugs showed higher concentrations of Escherichia coli.
    • Antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial infections
    • Laxative against constipation

Researchers also found that those using SSRI antidepressants and suffering from inflammatory bowel disease saw a greater amount of Eubacterium ramulus. Oral steroid users also showed a higher proportion of methanogenic bacteria. These bacteria are often associated with obesity.

According to Arnau Vich Vila, the principal investigator of the study, it is important to understand the true consequences of the use of certain drugs on the intestinal microbiome, and it is also important to consider the role of bacteria in the intestine in developing the same treatments and drugs, especially with regard to side effects.