Research press release


Nature Communications

Microbiology: Alterations of the gut microbiota in multiple sclerosis



今回、Howard Weinerたちは、60人のMS患者と43人の健常者(対照)の腸内微生物叢のサンプルを採取して解析したところ、対照より患者の方がメタノブレビバクター(ヒトの腸内における主なメタン生成微生物)などの微生物が多いことが分かった。この差異は、血中免疫細胞の免疫応答遺伝子(例えば、細胞の成熟とシグナル伝達経路に関係する遺伝子)の発現の差異と相関していた。また、Weinerたちは、MS患者の他の腸内微生物叢の変化が免疫抑制剤の使用と相関していることも明らかにした。さらには、これより小規模の患者コホートで、患者の呼気中メタン濃度が対照より高いことも明らかになった。この結果は、MS患者の方がメタノブレビバクターの数が多いことと一貫している。


Alterations in the gut microbiota correlate with changes in the expression of immune defence genes in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), finds a study published in Nature Communications. Further studies are needed to determine whether these changes could be used as potential biomarkers for assessing disease progression in the future.

Gut bacteria are known to have an influence on the function of the immune system, with changes in the abundances of gut microorganisms correlating with the development of autoimmune disorders. A previous study of 20 patients suffering from MS and 40 healthy controls found microbiota alterations in the patients with MS, but the potential connection between microbiota, therapy and changes in immunity has not been previously examined.

Howard Weiner and colleagues sampled and analysed the gut microbiota of 60 patients with MS and 43 healthy controls. They found that microorganisms such as Methanobrevibacter (the main methane-producing microbe in the human gut) were more abundant in patients than in controls. These changes correlated with variations in the expression of immune response genes in blood immune cells (for instance, genes involved in cell maturation and signalling pathways). They also showed that, in the patients, other microbiota alterations correlated with the use of immunosuppressive medication. In addition, within a smaller cohort of patients, elevated levels of methane were found in the breath of patients compared to controls, which is consistent with increased abundance of Methanobrevibacter in MS patients.

Further research with larger cohorts of patients and samples collected during disease progression is needed to test whether these alterations in microbiota may play a role in, or are a consequence of, changes in immune gene expression or the disease itself. Future work will also help determine whether the observed alterations in the microbiota or in methane in the breath could be used as disease biomarkers.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms12015

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