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GI highlights from the literature
  1. Philip J Smith
  1. Correspondence to Dr Philip J Smith, Royal Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool, UK; Philip.Smith{at}

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Distinct microbial and immune niches of the human colon

James K, Gomes T, Elmentaite R. et al. Distinct microbial and immune niches of the human colon. Nat Immunol 2020;21:343–53.

Simultaneous analyses of gut microbes and neighbouring immune cells are essential to understand the significance of environmental signals and their role in shaping the gut environment. Understanding what constitutes a healthy relationship between these compartments is of critical importance if we are to elucidate their involvement in both health and disease. The GI microbiota composition is highly regulated by the local environment including nutrient and oxygen levels. Alongside this, there is evidence of regional variation in immune cells. However, understanding to what extent regional microbial signatures influences local immune cell numbers/function has not been investigated. James et al catalogued colonic mucosal microbial signatures in parallel with single-cell RNA sequencing to document steady-state immune cell populations in colonic tissue and draining mesenteric lymph nodes, in the first simultaneous assessment of human subjects at steady state. The findings demonstrated regional differences in both microbial and immune cell compartments. The study identified distinct helper T cell activation and migration profiles that exist along the colon as well as an increasing level of B cell numbers along the proximal-to-distal colonic axis. This correlated with a higher proportion of bacteria in the sigmoid colon demonstrating IgA binding capacity compared with more proximal colon sites, further highlighting regionally directed functionality. The findings demonstrate a significant step forward in understanding the intricate link between the immune system and resident microbes in the context of health and diseases such as IBD.

Viral kinetics and pathogenesis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection

Wölfel R, Corman V, Guggemos W, et al. Virological assessment of hospitalized patients with COVID-2019. Nature 2020;

The SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has led to a global health crisis. In this study, longitudinal analyses were done …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.