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STUDY: Harvard Researchers Uncover Gut Bacteria's Potential Role In MS

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  • STUDY: Harvard Researchers Uncover Gut Bacteria's Potential Role In MS

    What does it all mean? We don't know yet, and the tests were done on a mouse model, but this research is intriguing. -D

    Researchers Uncover Gut Bacteria's Potential Role In Multiple Sclerosis
    Victoria Forster , CONTRIBUTOR

    A new study by researchers at Harvard University Medical School, published today in Nature, has uncovered new pathways mediating inflammation in Multiple Sclerosis (MS), involving molecules produced by gut bacteria breaking down food, which could lead to new treatment options for patients....

    "We essentially discovered a remote control by which the gut flora can control what is going on at a distant site in the body, in this case the central nervous system," said Dr Francisco Quintana, lead author of the paper from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

    Full article, in FORBES:
    Here is the Harvard abstract. Warning: It is pretty sciency. -D

    Microglial control of astrocytes in response to microbial metabolites

    Veit Rothhammer, Davis M. Borucki, Emily C. Tjon, Maisa C. Takenaka, Chun-Cheih Chao, Alberto Ardura-Fabregat, Kalil Alves de Lima, Cristina Gutiérrez-Vázquez, Patrick Hewson, Ori Staszewski, Manon Blain, Luke Healy, Tradite Neziraj, Matilde Borio, Michael Wheeler, Loic Lionel Dragin, David A. Laplaud, Jack Antel, Jorge Ivan Alvarez, Marco Prinz & Francisco J. Quintana

    Nature (2018)

    Published: 16 May 2018


    Microglia and astrocytes modulate inflammation and neurodegeneration in the central nervous system (CNS)1,2,3. Microglia modulate pro-inflammatory and neurotoxic activities in astrocytes, but the mechanisms involved are not completely understood4,5. Here we report that TGFα and VEGF-B produced by microglia regulate the pathogenic activities of astrocytes in the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Microglia-derived TGFα acts via the ErbB1 receptor in astrocytes to limit their pathogenic activities and EAE development. Conversely, microglial VEGF-B triggers FLT-1 signalling in astrocytes and worsens EAE. VEGF-B and TGFα also participate in the microglial control of human astrocytes. Furthermore, expression of TGFα and VEGF-B in CD14+ cells correlates with the multiple sclerosis lesion stage. Finally, metabolites of dietary tryptophan produced by the commensal flora control microglial activation and TGFα and VEGF-B production, modulating the transcriptional program of astrocytes and CNS inflammation through a mechanism mediated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. In summary, we identified positive and negative regulators that mediate the microglial control of astrocytes. Moreover, these findings define a pathway through which microbial metabolites limit pathogenic activities of microglia and astrocytes, and suppress CNS inflammation. This pathway may guide new therapies for multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders.

    Dave Bexfield

  • #2
    Sorry for the cold water, but I'm skeptical. From Wikipedia, dietary sources of tryptophan -

    Tryptophan is present in most protein-based foods or dietary proteins. It is particularly plentiful in chocolate, oats, dried dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, sesame, chickpeas, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, spirulina, and peanuts. Contrary to the popular belief that turkey contains an abundance of tryptophan, the tryptophan content in turkey is typical of poultry.

    Something this common in the diet regulates inflammation? And, CHOCOLATE! Chocolate was one of my primary food groups between the ages of 20 and 30. When MS took away basketball, I had to give up Dove bars, but there was no doubt my diet was elevated in tryptophan during the time when I developed MS.

    OK, everybody is different. Possibly there was something wrong with the way my body metabolized tryptophan. I've certainly been trained to be skeptical of new MS discoveries, and will probably be skeptical of THE ANSWER when it is found. But, tryptophan seems highly unlikely.