Link Between Gut Bacteria and MS Seen

doctor viewing stomachMore and more researchers are looking into bacteria that thrive in the stomach and its possible link to certain diseases and health conditions. Many scientists have, in particular, suspected that there is a link that exists between gut bacteria and certain immunological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Recent studies by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital may have found just that.

Researchers have detected some clear evidence that changes in the gut microbiome may also have an effect on people with multiple sclerosis. The said study found that people suffering from MS have different patterns of gut bacteria compared to healthy patients. In addition, people with MS who are receiving treatment also have different gut bacteria patterns from those MS patients who have not received any treatments. The findings may someday aid researchers in trying to focus on the gut microbiome in trying to find a cure for MS.

According to Howard L. Weiner, MD and co-director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Disease at Brigham Women’s Hospital, “Our findings raise the possibility that by affecting the gut microbiome, one could come up with treatments for MS – treatments that affect the microbiome, and, in turn, the immune response.”

Weiner and his colleagues set out to investigate the MS and gut bacteria link by using data and samples from patient information taken from the CLIMB or Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis study in Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  The researchers analyzed the stool samples from 60 patients with MS and 43 control subjects. The team performed gene sequencing in order to detect differences in gut bacteria patterns of the study subjects.

The researchers discovered that samples from those who suffer from MS contain higher levels of a certain bactertial species such as Methanobrevibacter and Akkermansia and lower levels of the Butyricimonas bacteria as compared to the samples of healthy controls. Previous studies have linked some of these microorganisms to inflammation and associated them with autoimmunity.

In addition, the researchers also looked into the gut bacterial patterns in treated and untreated MS patients.  The researchers note that patients who went through MS treatments also appear to show normalized gut bacterial patterns.

The researchers noted that further studies may be needed to look closer into how the gut microbiome has an effect on the disease. Further studies can investigate into the exact roles that these microorganisms play in the development or progression of the said disease and if modifying the gut microbiome may have any effect on MS or not.


Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (2016, July 12). Changes uncovered in the gut bacteria of patients with multiple sclerosis: Study finds alterations in the gut microbiomes of treated and untreated MS patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 3, 2016 from

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