The multiple sclerosis (MS) It affects 2.5 million people worldwide and 700,000 in Europe, according to data from the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN), which also indicates that 47,000 people in Spain suffer from this neurodegenerative disease and that 1,800 new cases are diagnosed each year. , 70% in people between 20 and 40 years of age, which is why it constitutes one of the main causes of neurological disability in the young population.
The treatment of multiple sclerosis is aimed at reducing the intensity of its symptoms, such as mobility problems, muscle spasms and stiffness, fatigue, pain, depression…, and delaying its progression, but there is no cure. A new study may provide hope for these patients, as it has found a potential way to curb chronic inflammation related to this disease.
The research has been conducted by neuroscientists at UVA Health at the University of Virginia who have identified a key factor in the hyperactive autoimmune response and the neuroinflammation that characterize MS and have verified that blocking this axis in a study model of MS decreased inflammation, a finding that represents a new objective to develop new therapies against multiple sclerosis and others autoimmune diseases.
“Tunening the immune response through the microbiome could prevent multiple sclerosis patients from facing the harsh side effects of immunosuppressive drugs”
Andrea Merchak, PhD candidate in neuroscience at UVA Health, explained that the team is looking for new avenues to approach the treatment of multiple sclerosis and that “By modulating the microbiome [el conjunto de microorganismos que viven en el organismo humano y sus genes], we are making progress in understanding how the immune response can run amok in autoimmunity. We can use this information to find early interventions.”
The role of the gut microbiome in multiple sclerosis
Previous studies have already suggested that the gut microbiome plays a role in the origin and progression of multiple sclerosis, and the results of the new research support this hypothesis by determining that a controller of the immune system found in “barrier tissues” Like the intestine, it plays an essential role in disease. Researchers have found that this regulator – dubbed the “aryl hydrocarbon receptor” – can reprogram the gut microbiome to drive damaging chronic inflammation.
Alban Gaultier of the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and its Center for Brain and Glia Immunology, or BIG, and colleagues blocked the activity of this regulator in T cells (immune cells) and this had a significant impact. in the production of bile acids and other metabolites in the microbiomes of laboratory mice. Disabling this receiver resulted in the inflammation subsided and the mice recovered.
The findings have been published in PLOS Biology and suggest that it could combat the inflammation responsible for multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases using a similar approach, although more research is needed to better understand the interactions between the immune system and the microbiome, the paper authors acknowledge.
“Due to the complexity of the intestinal flora, probiotics are difficult to use clinically. This receptor can be easily targeted with drugs, so we may have found a more reliable route to promote a healthy gut microbiome”, declared Merchak. “Ultimately, fine-tuning the immune response through the microbiome could prevent patients from facing the harsh side effects of immunosuppressive drugs”.