Gut bacteria can cause, predict and prevent rheumatoid arthritis

Gut bacteria can cause, predict and prevent rheumatoid arthritis
Credit: Mayo Clinic

bacteria in the intestine do more than break down food. They can also predict susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis, suggests Veena Taneja, Ph.D., an immunologist Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. Dr. Taneja has recently published two studies, one Genome Medicine and another Arthritis and Rheumatology can easily access points between the intestinal microbiota and rheumatoid arthritis.

More than 1.5 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis , a disorder that causes painful swelling in the joints. Scientists have limited knowledge of the processes that trigger the disease. Dr. Taneja and his team identified intestinal bacteria as a possible cause; studies indicate that evidence of the specific microbiota in intestine may help doctors predict and prevent the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.

“These are interesting findings that we may be able to use to customize treatment for patients,” says Dr. Taneja.

Article published in Genome Medicine summarizes a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, their families and a healthy control group. The study aimed to find a biomarker or a substance indicating a disease, condition or phenomena that predicts susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. They observed that the abundance of certain rare bacterial lineages causes a microbial imbalance found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

“Using genomic sequencing technology, we were able to pinpoint some intestinal microbes that were typically rare and of low abundance in healthy individuals, but expanded in patients with rheumatoid arthritis,” says Dr. Taneja.

Implications for the prediction and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis

After further research in mice and, eventually, humans, intestinal microbiota and metabolic firms could help scientists build a predictive profile that is likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and course the disease will take, Dr. Taneja says.

Based on studies with mice, researchers found an association between intestinal microbe Collinsella and phenotype of arthritis. The presence of these bacteria may lead to new ways to diagnose patients and to reduce the imbalance that causes rheumatoid before or in the early stages arthritis, according to John Davis III, MD, and Eric Matteson, MD, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic and study co-authors. Continued research may lead to preventive treatments.

possibility of more effective treatment with fewer side effects

The second article, published in Arthritis and Rheumatology explored another facet of intestinal bacteria . Dr. Taneja treated one group of mice with arthritis susceptible bacteria, histicola Prevotella, and a comparison group had no treatment. The study found that mice treated with the bacteria had decreased frequency of symptoms and severity, and fewer inflammatory conditions associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The treatment produces fewer side effects, such as weight gain and villous atrophy, a condition that prevents the intestine to absorb nutrients-that can be linked with other more traditional treatments.

While human trials have yet taken place, and immune systems of mice mimic arthritis humans, and shows promise for similar and positive effects. Since this bacteria is a part of healthy human intestine, treatment is less likely to have side effects, says study co-author Joseph Murray, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease; which it occurs when the body mistakenly attacks itself. The body breaks down the tissue around the joints, causing inflammation that can erode bone and deformed joints. The disease can damage other parts of the body including the skin, eyes, heart, lungs and blood vessels.

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