Changing the gut’s microbial community (microbiota) with antibiotics prevented the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), but not its progression after the disease was established, data from a mouse model of the disease show.
These findings support evidence that microbiota manipulations affect inflammatory immune responses involved in MS development, but may have a minimal impact on remyelination (production of myelin, the protective coat surrounding nerve fibers that is destroyed in MS) once the disease is established.
More studies are needed to better understand whether therapeutic strategies to change gut microbiota may be beneficial to patients with established disease, the researchers noted.
The study, “Perturbation of gut microbiota decreases susceptibility but does not modulate ongoing autoimmune neurological disease,” was published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.
The gastrointestinal tract is colonized by gut microbiota, a vast community of friendly bacteria, fungi, and viruses that play an important role in gut health. These microorganisms help to maintain a balanced gut function, protect against disease-causing organisms, and influence the host’s immune system and inflammatory responses.
Several studies have shown that the gut microbiota plays an important role in MS development. Most studies behind this association compared the gut microbiota between MS patients and healthy individuals, or changed it through antibiotics or diet in MS animal models before disease onset.
That’s why manipulation of the gut microbiota is thought to have therapeutic benefits in MS patients, and considerable efforts are being made to develop gut microbiota modification therapies.
However, whether manipulating gut microbiota in established MS will have an impact on disease progression remains unclear.
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