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Diet and Intestinal Flora Linked with MS

June 9, 2016

There is new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital Boston that suggests bacteria living in the gut are in fact linked with the activity of brain cells that are involved in the control of inflammation and neurodegeneration. The research team found evidence that dietary changes can influence astrocyte cell which is a type of cerebral and consequently neurodegeneration. The evidence can potentially be useful in developing possible therapeutic targets diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Food was discovered to have some sort of role in the central nervous system through inflammation. Consumed food influences the ability of intestinal bacteria in order to produce small molecules, some of which even have the capability of traveling to the brain. Researcher Francisco Quintana who led the work states that this opens up the unknown area of how the intestines control inflammation of the brain.

A transcriptional expression analysis of astrocytes in a mouse model of MS was performed by identifying a molecular pathway involved in inflammation in order to furthermore explore the link between the intestines and the brain. It was discovered that molecules derived from tryptophan (amino acid found in turkey and other foods) act on this pathway between the two and when the molecules are more present, brain inflammation is limited.

Low levels of the tryptophan molecules were also found in MS patient blood samples, which could be a contributing factor to the progression of the disease. New therapeutic strategies are trying to be developed in order to transform the research team’s work into therapies for diseases like multiple sclerosis.