Sweeten up the neighbours

bacteria halloween helicobacter hepaticus

This guest blog post come from Helicobacter hepaticus, a frenemy.

I recently moved in to a new neighbourhood. It’s so busy round here. There just seems to be more and more competition for space and you take what you can get. Having said that I am quite particular about where I live, I like things just so. So my place is just as I want it, it even came with a huge wall that separates me from the neighbours so I can keep myself to myself. I haven’t had too much to do with my direct neighbours, the Mcrophages (or maybe it’s Mac, I’m not sure) except for Halloween…

It was my first Halloween here and I was expecting the worst. The M(a)crophages do not have a good reputation and the chitter chatter around town suggests that they can be quite aggressive and unpredictable. I was dreading them knocking on the door. Candy in hand, I started the evening peeking through my curtains to see who would pay me a visit. No-one came. I waited an hour, no-one came. Another hour past, no-one came. Just as I was placing my candy back in the cupboard to call it a night, a last peek through the curtains revealed what can only be described as a herd…no a flock…no a mononuclear phagocyte system of M(a)crophages! Gosh did they look hungry. They came bounding down the path with their mouths wide open, running towards my front door as predators approach their prey. I was terrified. This was it. They were right.

Knock…Knock…Knock. Tentatively I opened the door, chain still on, poking my candy-laden hand out of the small opening. “Thank-you!”, called a soft voice. What was happening. Is this a trick I thought. Are they lulling me into a false sense of security before…before what? What did I actually think was going to happen? They were going to trick or treat me to death? I took off the chain and invited everyone inside. I even opened the huge candy that I was saving for a special occasion, to share with the M(a)crophage kids. If anything, sharing this with them made them even more delightful, extremely calm and friendly.

I realised that the M(a)crophages’ reputation really came from the tendency of the other folk in the neighbourhood to be, well, let’s say a bit inflammatory.

This blog post is based on the research article:

A Large Polysaccharide Produced by Helicobacter hepaticus Induces an Anti-inflammatory Gene Signature in Macrophages.