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Antibiotics in early life disrupt gut flora and immune system in MS rat study

A study has found that antibiotic use in early life may have subsequent unfavourable effects on gut flora and the regulation of the immune system.

An imbalance of gut flora has been considered the essential element in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).

In this study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, antibiotics were administered orally to Dark Agouti (DA) rats early in their life with the aim of unsettling gut flora and investigating the effects of such intervention on the course of EAE.

As a result, the diversity of the gut flora was reduced under the influence of antibiotics. Mainly, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria were replaced by Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, while decreased proportions of Clostridia and Bacilli classes were accompanied by an increase in Gamma-Proteobacteria in antibiotic-treated animals.

Interestingly, a notable decrease in the Helicobacteraceae, Spirochaetaceae and Turicibacteriaceae was scored in antibiotic-treated groups. Also, levels of short chain fatty acids were reduced in the faeces of antibiotic-treated rats. Consequently, aggravation of EAE, paralleled with stronger immune response in lymph nodes draining the site of immunisation, and increased inflammation within the central nervous system (CNS), were observed in antibiotic-treated DA rats. As a result, the alteration of gut microbiota leads to an escalation of CNS-directed autoimmunity in DA rats.

Researchers concluded the results of this study indicate that antibiotic use in early life may have subsequent unfavourable effects on the regulation of the immune system. Further research using humans is needed to understand the true effects.

Source: MS-UK, 14/02/2019

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