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'Good' Bacteria Keep Immune System Primed to Fight Future Infections

Scientists have long pondered the seeming contradiction that taking broad-spectrum antibiotics over a long period of time can lead to severe secondary bacterial infections. Now researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine may have figured out why.

The investigators show that "good" bacteria in the gut keep the immune system primed to more effectively fight infection from invading pathogenic bacteria. Altering the intricate dynamic between resident and foreign bacteria -- via antibiotics, for example -- compromises an animal's immune response, specifically, the function of white blood cells called neutrophils.

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