(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the UK and the US have shown that more social monkeys have more beneficial gut bacteria and fewer potentially harmful ones than primates, which have less social contact.
Perhaps the same can be observed in humans.
More and more information is emerging that the so-called gut-brain axis plays a key role in our physical and psychological health.
It is also known that there is a relationship between social behavior and the gut microbiome: bacteria can be transmitted, for example, through touch.
Scientists from the Universities of Oxford (UK) and Colorado (USA) decided to learn more about this issue and studied 22 male and 16 female rhesus monkeys living on the Caribbean island of Cayo Santiago, off the east coast of Puerto Rico
From 2012 to 2013, the authors of the article collected a total of 50 uncontaminated stool samples from this group.
As an indicator of social bonds, we used the time that each monkey spent grooming with another individual (or individuals) in the same period, as well as the number of such partners.
The fact is that macaques are very social animals, and grooming plays an important role for them in maintaining social contacts.
By analyzing DNA sequencing data from fecal samples, the researchers assessed the composition and diversity of primate gut microbial communities.
They also took into account sex, age, time of year when feces were collected, and the rank of an individual in the group hierarchy.
The scientists paid special attention to microbes, which, as previously shown, are more or less common in humans and rodents, which are prone to symptoms resembling autism and accompanied by social disengagement.
It turned out that participation in social interactions was positively correlated with the abundance of certain intestinal bacteria with beneficial immunological functions, and, conversely, reduced the number of potentially pathogenic microorganisms.
For example, the most sociable monkeys had more of the health-promoting bacteria Faecalibacterium and Prevotella, but less of Streptococcus, a type of pathogen that causes pharyngitis and pneumonia in humans, for example.
Scientists suggest that the exchange of microbes can occur through touch during grooming. And since socially closed people, as mentioned above, also have a large number of pathogenic bacteria, these conclusions can be useful for humans, but require further study.
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