Gut Bacteria Reduces Inflammation, Demyelination in Autoimmune Disease

A gut microbe may play a role in the treatment of multiple sclerosis in the future.

A newly discovered human gut microbe may help treat autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS).

In a study published in Cell Reports, investigators tested microbial samples derived from humans on a mouse model of MS.

Three bacterial strains were discovered, 1 of which effectively suppressed the disease in the preclinical mouse models.

Prevotella histicola is a commensal bacterium native to the human gut, and has been shown to have systemic immune effects when administered enterally.

The results of the study showed P. histicola caused a decrease in T cells and dendritic cells, while increasing macrophages.

“This is an early discovery but an avenue that bears further study,” said senior author Joseph Murray, MD. “If we can use the microbes already in the human body to treat human disease beyond the gut itself, we may be onto a new era of medicine. We are talking about bugs as drugs.”

In the future, the authors plan to investigate whether P. histicola modulates human immune cells directly or via its interaction with intestinal epithelial cells. They hope their findings may one day play a role in the treatment of MS.

“Our work is a classic example of a bedside to bench and potentially back to bedside study,” said first author Ashutosh Mangalam, PhD. “Recent MS microbiome studies have shown the lack of Prevotella genus in patients with the disease and an increase when patients were treated with disease-modifying drugs.

“And it’s not just for MS, because this may have a similar modulating effect on other nervous system and autoimmune disease.”