What is it about?

Blood is not free of bacteria. It is full of bacterial genes even among healthy people. These include bacteria such as Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and many others. However, they may not be traditionally believed harmful bacteria that cause infections. They exist in more primitive forms without cell walls and hence cannot be grown by regular culture methods used in clinical practice. There is a whole community of different such bacteria which are labelled as the blood microbiota. This community of bacteria changes when one develops a disease. Our study saw changes in bacteria in patients with kidney disease when compared to healthy people. We also found lesser diversity of bacteria in kidney disease patients when compared to healthy people.

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Why is it important?

Scientific studies are finding that a healthy blood is not sterile (free of bacteria) but rather a complex community of primitive bacteria (bacteria without cell walls that cannot be grown in culture media) that live in symbiosis with the human body to maintain health. This community of bacteria are called bacterial microbiota and their genes is collectively called the bacterial microbiome. A balanced and diverse bacterial microbiota and microbiome in blood is essential in maintaining health. Loss of this balance and diversity has been observed in chronic kidney disease. Measuring and understanding the blood microbiota in future could help in identifying individual state of health and possibly diagnosing and predicting kidney diseases as well as identifying treatment options targeting the human blood microbiome.


This article and its results are very enlightening and thought provoking to me due to the following: When bacteria were first discovered, there were 2 major conflicting theories of bacteria. One was Louis Pasteur's theory of monomorphism which identifies each bacteria as a unique monomorphic organism capable of causing a disease. According to this theory, we must eliminate the bacteria to cure the patient of the disease. This is how antibiotics came into practice and have significantly improved survival of humans from various infections. This is the theory currently practiced in medicine. The other theory was Antoine Bechamp's terrain theory of pleomorphism. According to this theory, bacteria are pleomorphic which can grow into symbiotic beneficial ones in a healthy environment (terrain) or dysbiotic harmful ones in a toxic inflamed terrain. Therefore, one must clean the terrain to generate a healthy bacterial community. The bacterial microbiota (primitive bacteria without cell wall) seem to follow this theory which seems more relevant to chronic diseases. Therefore, maintaining a healthy internal environment (terrain) may help grow a healthy and diverse community of microbiota which in turn can keep us healthy. Future studies must focus on how bacterial microbiota balance can be restored by maintaining a healthy terrain. This could help treat chronic diseases such as chronic kidney disease.

Neal Shah
Harvard University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Blood Microbiome Profile in CKD, Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, April 2019, American Society of Nephrology,
DOI: 10.2215/cjn.12161018.
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