A new study has found further evidence that changes to the gut microbiome play a role in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS). Scientists at the New York School of Medicine found that newly diagnosed people who had not yet begun to use disease-modifying therapies, regardless of their ethnic background, had a high concentration of the bacteria group Clostridia compared with people who do not have MS.
This piece of research, published in the journal Nature, is significant because studies on humans have been inconclusive in terms of gut bacteria’s involvement with MS. This is because most study participants have been living long-term with MS and taking disease-modifying treatments which are known to alter gut bacteria. By studying those who have not yet had treatment, the scientists believe they may get a better understanding of how gut microbiome changes can influence or even lead to MS.
For the study, researchers tested 45 people diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS. Among these, 14 self-identified as African-Americans, 15 as Caucasians and 16 as Hispanic. These were all matched ethnically with healthy controls. In the stool analysis of all the participants, differences among the ethnic groups were observed, with some ethnic groups having greater numbers of specific bacteria than others, but what the participants all had in common was a bigger abundance of the group of bacteria called Clostridia when compared to the healthy control group.
Scientists hope that by identifying changes in gut microbiome that are associated with MS could lead to new diagnostic markers, or even flag up a root cause of the condition.