Now recent work from scientists at Cal Tech has shown that gut bacteria may also play an important role in regulation of inflammatory processes systemically including in the central nrevous system. These studies involved sterile mice which do not develop, or have a significantly attenuated form of, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) which is an animal model of multiple sclerosis, MS. MS is a progressively degenerative disease that results in the deterioration of the protective fatty myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells. The loss of myelin impairs the processes of communication between nerve cells. This loss of neural interaction leads to a host of symptoms including loss of sensation, muscle spasms and weakness, fatigue, and pain. Although the exact cause of MS is not known, what is known is that viral and bacterial infections result in an increase in MS symptoms in afflicted individuals. When sterile mice were inoculated with Bacteroides fragilis, a bacteria from a group known as segmented filamentous bacteria (these bacteria are known to cause intestinal inflammation) they developed MS.
Thus, it seems that one is, or becomes, what one eats. The potential health benefits from research such as this is that some day the ingestion of certain forms of probiotic bacteria may be included in the regimen of fighting off and/or treating a variety of immune-related disorders.
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Has the microbiota played a critical role in the evolution of the adaptive immune system?
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