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Rutgers Mouse Study Shows Gut Bacteria Connection to MS Onset and Development

November 30, 2017

A new mouse study says that exposure to certain gut bacteria at a young age may be a cause of multiple sclerosis. In the past, studies have suggested that gut bacteria works as a protective element against MS, while others state that they actually contribute to disease progression. Given these different results, there is still hope that regulating gut bacteria could represent new potential therapies in the MS world.

Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School conducted a study with mice that had been genetically altered to have MS-associated risk genes similar to those that had been identified in patients. It was found that as long as mice were kept sterile and away from bacteria they showed no signs of MS, although things took a turn when they were exposed to bacteria and brought to a normal environment. They spontaneously developed experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), MS-like disease.

Adolescent or young adult mice were more susceptible to MS than the older animals, which may be caused to do an increase in immunological tolerance that mice obtain as they age. This had overall triggered pro-inflammatory signals and activated immune T-cells when mice were at the stage of young adulthood, further supporting the role of gut bacteria in MS onset and progression.

These findings are said to have been “therapeutic implications on slowing down MS progression by manipulating gut bacteria,” said Sahayl Dhib-Jalbut, co-author of the study and professor and director of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.