Specific gut bacteria may drive the progression of multiple sclerosis, according to a study showing that two bacterial species made the disease worse in a mouse model of MS.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco also pinpointed a species — found in lower numbers in MS patients — that had protective properties in mice with the condition. This demonstrated the power that gut microbes have over the immune system in MS.
The study could be the first step toward therapies that target these gut inhabitants as a way of obtaining control over the disease.
Researchers published the study, “Gut bacteria from multiple sclerosis patients modulate human T cells and exacerbate symptoms in mouse models,” in the journal PNAS,
Our closest environmental link
What prompted researchers to look at the microbiome was the knowledge that genetics play a relatively small part in the risk of someone developing MS.
“The field has been very successful in identifying genes associated with susceptibility to MS, but I’ve never been satisfied with amount of risk that we’ll be able to explain with just genetics,” Sergio Baranzini, a neurology professor who was the senior investigator of the study, said in a university news release.
“Even identical twins, who share the same genetic inheritance, only share an MS diagnosis about 35 percent of the time,” he said. “It’s clear the genome is important, but environmental factors must also play a major role.”
Another clue to the role of environmental factors is a surge in autoimmune diseases, including MS, in the past century, researchers said.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?