Newswise — Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School published a study suggesting that gut bacteria at young age can contribute to Multiple sclerosis (MS) disease onset and progression.
In this study, published in the October 31 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sudhir Yadav PhD, a neuroimmunology post-doctoral fellow in the laboratories of Drs. Kouichi Ito, associate professor of neurology, and Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, professor and chair of neurology, tested mice that were engineered to have a pre-disposition for MS. Because mice would not normally develop MS, researchers used MS-associated risk genes from real patients to genetically engineer mice for this study. Dr. Ito created this unique model of genetically engineered mice to specifically study the cause of MS.
At first, when the genetically modified mice were put in a sterile, germ-free environment, they did not develop MS. When exposed to a normal environment that would normally contain bacteria, the mice did develop MS-like disease and inflammation in their bowels, suggesting gut bacteria is a risk factor that triggers MS disease development.
The study showed a link between gut bacteria and MS-like disease incidence which was more prominent at a younger age, when MS is also more prevalent. The younger mice were more prone to develop MS than the older mice. Together, age, gut bacteria, and MS-risk genes collaboratively seem to trigger disease. This study is also the first to identify mechanisms by which gut bacteria triggers changes in the immune system that underlie MS progression.
“The findings could have therapeutic implications on slowing down MS progression by manipulating gut bacteria,” says Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, Director of Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Center for Multiple Sclerosis. Future research could lead to the elimination of harmful types of gut bacteria that were shown to cause MS progression, or conversely enhance beneficial bacteria that protects from disease progression. The investigators recently received NIH funding to examine their findings in MS patients.
About Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. Part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 20 basic science and clinical departments, and hosts centers and institutes including The Cardiovascular Institute, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, and the Women’s Health Institute. The medical school has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the top 100 medical schools in the nation for research and primary care.
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, an RWJBarnabas Health facility and the medical school’s principal affiliate, comprise one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers. Clinical services are provided by more than 500 faculty physicians in 200+ specialties and subspecialties as part of Rutgers Health, the clinical arm of Rutgers University. Rutgers Health is the most comprehensive academic health care provider in New Jersey, offering a breadth of accessible clinical care throughout the state supported by the latest in medical research and education.
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels on its campuses in New Brunswick and Piscataway and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs. With more than 5,500 alumni since the start of its first class in 1996, the medical school has expanded its comprehensive programming and educational opportunities and is at the forefront of innovative curriculum development and a visionary admissions program. To learn more about Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, visit rwjms.rutgers.edu.