An association between rural second home tourism and commensal microbiota of urban dwellers

A research article has been published

A research article written by Mika Saarenpää et al. has been published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The study is based on the hygiene and biodiversity hypotheses which suggest that increased hygiene levels and reduced contact with biodiversity can partially explain the high prevalence of immune-mediated diseases in developed countries. A disturbed commensal microbiota, especially in the gut, has been linked to multiple immune-mediated diseases. Previous studies imply that gut microbiota composition is associated with the everyday living environment and can be modified by increasing direct physical exposure to biodiverse materials. In this pilot study, the effects of rural-second-home tourism were investigated on the gut microbiota for the first time. Rural-second-home tourism has the potential to alter the human microbiota by increasing exposure to nature and environmental microbes. The hypotheses were that the use of rural second homes is associated with differences in the gut microbiota and that the microbiota related to health benefits are more diverse or common among the rural-second-home users.

Based on the results, the first hypothesis was supported: the use of rural second homes was found to be associated with lower gut microbiota diversity and RIG-I-like receptor signaling pathway levels. The second hypothesis was not supported: health-related microbiota were not more diverse or common among the second-home users. The current study encourages further research on the possible health outcomes or causes of the observed microbiological differences.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: Do Rural Second Homes Shape Commensal Microbiota of Urban Dwellers? A Pilot Study among Urban Elderly in Finland