Conference Coverage

How Does the Gut Microbiome Differ in Patients With Relapsing MS Versus Controls?

Changes to the gut microbiome could suggest biomarkers of disease activity and point to potential therapies.


NASHVILLE—The microbiome composition of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) may differ significantly from that of healthy controls, according to data presented at the 2018 CMSC Annual Meeting.

Although the etiology of MS remains unknown, genetic and environmental factors play a role. Evidence from animal models has suggested that alteration of the gut microbiota may modulate immune-mediated demyelination, suggesting a role of the microbiome in MS pathogenesis.

To examine the gut microbiome in patients with relapsing MS versus controls, Raffaella Umeton, MD, Neurology Resident Physician at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, and colleagues collected 42 stool samples from patients with relapsing-remitting MS and secondary progressive MS with relapses, as well as 28 control samples from healthy donors.

Investigators obtained demographic and clinical data from medical record review and extracted DNA from stool samples. Their statistical analyses included Quantitative Insights Into Microbial Ecology (QIIME) for comparing operational taxonomic unit representation at the species, genus, and family levels.

Ruminococcus torques, Ruminococcus obeum, and Lactospiraces bacterium showed a significantly higher abundance in the relapsing-remitting MS population, compared with healthy controls, and these associations were confirmed at the genus level. Associations with Escherichia coli and Oscillibacter also were significant and confirmed at the genus and family levels.

Bacteroides fragilis and Roseburia were more abundant in healthy donors than in patients with relapsing-remitting MS, and Haemophilus parainfluenzae and Sutterella wadsworthensis were more abundant in healthy donors at the species, genus, and family levels.

“Larger studies are necessary to investigate the changes within the gut microbiome and MS, which may lead to potential disease activity biomarkers and therapies,” Dr. Umeton and colleagues concluded.

Erica Tricarico

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