Gut Bacteria May Provoke Multiple Sclerosis

Another study suggests gut bacteria has an important role in triggering multiple sclerosis.

The gut microbiome has been implicated in several diseases and illnesses, making maintaining a healthy microbiome with balanced gut bacteria important for overall health. Several studies have suggested bacteria plays a key role in the development of incurable autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS).

The exposure to certain gut bacteria may spur MS, especially during young adulthood, according to research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The authors found that age, gut bacteria composition, and several associated genes seem to play a role in causing MS. These factors were observed to have the most significant impact during earlier life.

The authors said that additional studies could lead to novel therapies that would kill harmful gut bacteria that cause MS, while also enhancing protective bacteria, according to the study.

“The findings could have therapeutic implications on slowing down MS progression by manipulating gut bacteria,” said study co-author Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, MD.

In the study, the investigators genetically engineered mice to have human genes known to increase MS risk.

When engineered mice were living in a sterile environment, they did not develop MS.

However, when the mice were living in a normal environment and exposed to bacteria, they developed MS-like disease and inflammation in their bowels, according to the study.

Based on these findings, the authors hypothesize that gut bacteria are a significant risk factor for MS and can trigger its development.

Notably, adolescent mice were more likely to develop MS compared with older mice. The authors said this may indicate that the older animals developed immunity against the bacteria over time, according to the study.

Another study—published by Cell Reports—found 3 human gut microbes that may help treat autoimmune diseases such as MS. The authors of the study found that one of the bacteria was able to effectively suppress MS in the preclinical mouse models.

The bacteria, Prevotella histicola, was shown to cause a decrease in T cells and dendritic cells, while increasing macrophages in the mice, which suggests it could treat MS.