Dr. Sergio Baranzini of UC San Francisco recently led an international consortium of researchers in a new study of multiple sclerosis (MS). In a press release on Multiple Sclerosis News Today, Dr. Baranzini noted that the findings in their study will be used for reference by the field far into the future.
The new study shows the differences between the profiles of gut bacteria in MS patients and individuals who are healthy. Dr. Baranzini and his team identified dozens of new species of bacteria related to MS. Although many of these changes have been discussed previously, this is the first time that the entire spectrum has been reported.
The Significance of Gut Bacteria
New research has found that gut bacteria are critical to disease and overall health. The digestive tract involves billions of microorganisms as well as bacteria which are collectively called gut microbiomes. It is noteworthy that gut bacterial toxins were found in significant levels in the spinal fluid of MS patients. Higher levels of inflammatory bacteria were observed in MS patients, while good bacteria were found at lower levels.
Prior research shows that demographics such as age and sex affect changes but specifics have not been consistent among studies.
The new study, entitled the International Multiple Sclerosis Microbiome study, found that the composition of the gut is influenced by environmental factors, such as where people reside and what they eat. The study finds that gut bacteria may affect the severity of the disease in MS patients in comparison to healthy people living in the same household.
About the University of California S.F. Study
The study, which was published in Cell’s September 2022 issue, recruited 576 patients. The same number of controls from the same households were also enrolled. This cohort was genetically unrelated to patients in the U.S., the UK, Spain, and Argentina. The findings that emphasize the differences in gut microbiome profiles in MS patients versus healthy people are significant.
Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)
Seventy-six percent of MS patients evaluated in the study had RRMS, in which symptoms alternate between relapse and remission.
Twenty-four percent of patients had progressive type MS, while two-thirds were receiving disease-modifying therapy.
The species of bacteria in the gut microbiome were determined by analyzing stool samples. The research staff was able to identify sixteen bacteria species in higher amounts in the MS patients while finding seven other species in significantly lower amounts in patients than in controls.
The team discovered depletion of a type of potentially beneficial bacteria in a group of MS patients contrary to the larger levels of beneficial bacteria found in healthy patients.
In conclusion, the disease-modifying treatment appears to be associated with disease severity. These findings may open the door to the development of new therapies that regulate gut microbiomes.