GI bacteria and multiple sclerosis

An environmental stimulus to cause multiple sclerosis (MS) has been debated for years – usually viruses or bacteria. However, a new paper by Kerstin Berer and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsreid in Germany points to the commensal bacteria in the GI tract. Using the EAE mouse model of MS, they show that gut bacteria are essential for triggering the auto-immune attack on the central nervous system. That is, germ-free mice induced to have auto-immune disease remain healthy until they are colonized with commensal bacteria. The results are quite dramatic. This adds to the evidence of a role for gut microbiota in inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatoid arthritis  and type 1 diabetes. Somehow the commensals are seen as foreign under certain circumstances?

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7 Responses to GI bacteria and multiple sclerosis

  1. Brielle says:

    It is interesting that more autoimmune diseases are not associated with different birth methods. For example, children born by c-section take 10 months to reach the gut bacterial diversity of those born by traditionally means.

    Another related study by Takata, et al. (2011) found that ingestion of a specific strain of lactic acid bacteria could reduce clinical signs of EAE. The authors suggest that the bacteria suppressed systemic inflammation. Could this strain of bacteria be used as an anti-inflammatory in diseases associated with chronic immune activation?

    Takata et al. PLoS One. 2011; 6(11): e27644.

    • phpatterson says:

      Thx Brielle. Yes, c-section babies are thought to acquire GI bacteria from the skin of folks who initially handle them rather than from the usual source, the vaginal birth canal. The mother’s normal delivery of her vaginal microbiota to the newborn could be good or bad, depending on the composition of her microbiota. Ditto for the cutaneous source, altho one might guess that the more “natural” source would be preferable. As cited in my book in Chap. 7, Cesarean births are indeed associated with increased probability of asthma and allergies in the offspring.
      RE using probiotics to treat autoimmune disease, this is now becoming a hot topic, altho no one knows yet which bacterial might be best for this purpose in humans, nor what is the best method for colonizing the human gut with the probiotic. That is, just eating the bacteria may not be sufficient to allow those bacteria to take hold and displace others. As mentioned in Chap. 7, fecal transplants is another route being tested.

  2. Blackheart says:

    Might be interested in this research…

    “Autism, with its constellation of behavioral and cognitive symptoms, might seem to be all in the brain. But intriguing new studies suggest that some aspects of the disorder might originate in the gut.

    For decades, doctors have heard anecdotal reports that children with autism have frequent gastrointestinal problems, suffering from bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea and more.

    The latest research, conducted over the past several years, probes the controversial possibility that whatever is amiss in the gut is not just a symptom of autism, but one of the causes. The work is an offshoot of mounting scientific interest in the human microbiome, the stew of bacteria that make their homes in our gastrointestinal tracts.

    A new study, published 31 January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that these microbial residents may direct brain development, ultimately shaping behavior1.”

  3. Brielle Bjorke says:

    Might be worth considering Sutterella wadsworthensis or Sutterella stercoricanis in your studies..
    Williams et al. 2012 mBio January 10, vol. 3 no. 1

  4. Brielle Bjorke says:

    However, I suspect changes to the immune system mediate the success of different strains of intestinal bacteria (as well as brain development).

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