What You Need To Know About Commensals and APS

Our gut bacteria may be responsible for antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). What do you need to know about the ordinary gut bacteria known as commensals, and APS? Keep reading, or view the whole story at rheumatology.org to find out!
Antiphospholipid syndrome is an autoimmune disease that primarily affects young women. Scientists have known this for a while. APS causes complications during pregnancy. It can even cause recurring miscarriages. Among patients under 50, APS antibodies are also observed alongside thrombosis and stroke. We’ve got a pretty good idea of what APS does. We have little idea, however, about the how or why of APS. To learn more about this rare disease, click here.

The only treatment option currently available are simple blood thinners. These treatments only serves to prevent and lessen blood clots that form towards the end of the disease. Compared to other rheumatic illnesses, APS is unfortunately serious, and even more a mystery.

A recent study by Yale University School of Medicine’s Kriegel Lab hopes to change that. For some time, dangerous bacteria, and foreign microbes have been suspected. They’ve often been lumped together with antiphospholipid antibodies. With this in mind, the Kriegel Lab team decided to look for the source rather than analyze the results.

One previous assumption about APS was that antiphospholipid antibodies can be correlated with infection. These same antibodies, however, have been ruled not to be the cause of APS. The Kriegel Lab team instead tested a hypothesis that routine gut bacteria may be the trigger for APS onset.

The study tested over 120 microbial samples, from 54 patients. The group included APS patients, those with similar, related illness, and unaffected, healthy donors. Over the course of eight weeks, each patient was tested at three distinct points. The results show that variations in specific gut bacteria over time could produce the key phospholipids and chemicals responsible for APS. Compared to the control group, which did not display any of these suspected markers, it is clear that the bacteria found in APS patients is in some way correlated to their disease, if not the cause of it.

Dr. Kriegel, head of the Yale team, and author of this study, admits that the work they’ve found so far is just the beginning. The finding are, however, suggestive. The research is thorough and sound, and Dr. Kriegel is predicting further study of the bacterial groups they’ve identified. By culturing these bacteria, and observing their interactions with patient immune cells, it is possible to learn more. One day the bacteria from Kriegel Lab may be identified as indicators, triggers, or even targets for APS treatment. We still have much to learn, but it is promising to see such steps being made.

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