No matter how horrible it is to realize this, we are literally full of slime. Every day our body produces about a liter of viscous fluid that covers the walls of the entire gastrointestinal tract and other areas of our body. The main function of the mucus in the human body is the protection against mechanical damage and the penetration of dangerous bacteria. According to scientists from the US state of Massachusetts, the mucus produced by the human body not only inhibits bacteria, but literally controls their behavior.
The mucus, which covers about 200 square meters of the walls of various body parts, consists of two important components. First, the so-called glycans, molecules with a fairly large branching structure, are an integral part of the mucus. Second, a viscous fluid contains proteins called mucins. Together, they form a complex structure that the author of a new study, Katarina Ribbek, compares with brushes for cleaning bottles.
Why do you need mucus?
Katarina Ribbek has been studying human mucus for over a decade. She believes that mucus is too little part of our body, even though it covers most of our body. She already knew that many bacteria practically lose their mobility as they enter the mucus and become an easy target for the immune system. During one of the experiments, however, other interesting abilities appeared in the slime.
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The researchers placed Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria in human mucus. Basically, they do not pose a threat to humans, but with weakened immunity they can cause infections with various infections. In the course of the observations, the researchers found that a viscous fluid not only slows down the bacteria, but also nullifies some of the possibilities.
First, Pseudomonas aeruginosa has stopped secreting toxic substances, that is, they have become much safer. Second, the bacteria did not try to destroy human epithelial cells. Third, microorganisms lost the ability to interact with each other so that they could not form biofilm. And the formation of bacterial clusters can, among other things, cause many serious diseases.
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Researchers led by Katarina Ribbek want to investigate the effect of mucus on the so-called streptococci. They are parasites of humans and animals and multiply in the airways and in the digestive tract. When they multiply, terrible diseases such as pharyngitis, bronchitis and pneumonia can occur. In further work, the scientists want to find out which bacterial receptors are affected by the glycans and mucins contained in the mucus. Perhaps this knowledge will help them develop new medicines for a variety of bacterial diseases.