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Intestinal bacteria could influence the development of MS
Scientists from Germany have shown that a tryptophan-free diet in mice changes the composition of the intestinal bacteria and protects against symptoms of experimentally generated multiple sclerosis (MS).
It has long been known that healthy intestinal flora makes an important contribution to protection against infections, allergies and other diseases. Researchers have now found that intestinal bacteria could also have an impact on the development of multiple sclerosis (MS).
No symptoms developed
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, i.e. a protein building block that cannot be produced by the body itself, but must be ingested through food.
Metabolic products of tryptophan are involved in a number of important functions in the body as messenger substances, according to a message from the Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI).
For example, they control certain immune cells or help strengthen the intestinal barrier. A diet that specifically omits tryptophan changes the composition of the intestinal bacteria in mice and surprisingly ensures that the animals do not develop symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
This has been shown by researchers from the Cluster of Excellence “Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation” at the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) at the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel (CAU) in cooperation with the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg.
The scientists recently published the work in the journal "Nature Communications".
Combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system. In the case of the disease, the patient's own immune system attacks the isolation of the nerve fibers in the central nervous system and gradually destroys them, thereby disrupting the transmission of signals in the nerves. Over time, these changes can lead to disturbances in motor skills or sensory perception in the patient.
Previous studies have suggested that a combination of genetic makeup and environmental factors causes the disease. The new work now shows that the intestinal microbiome, i.e. all bacteria in the intestine, could also play an important role in this.
To this end, the researchers worked with a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, in which the body's own immune cells turn against a particular coat protein of nerve isolation in the central nervous system and thereby cause symptoms typical of MS.
Animals that received a special feed that lacked the amino acid tryptophan did not develop MS symptoms in this model. With them, the aggressive immune cells had not migrated to the spinal cord. This protective effect was dependent on the presence of bacteria in the intestine, which means that if these were missing, the protection against MS had also disappeared.
Changed composition of the intestinal bacteria
“The omission of the amino acid tryptophan changes the composition of the intestinal bacteria, which send a previously unknown signal to the immune cells,” explains Dr. Maren Falk-Paulsen from the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel (CAU).
“We do not yet know what mechanisms are behind this phenomenon. We want to investigate that in more detail in the future, ”says the scientist who is a member of the PMI Cluster of Excellence.
Scientists from the PMI Cluster of Excellence at IKMB headed by Professor Philip Rosenstiel have long been researching how tryptophan affects the gut microbiome and chronic inflammation.
"In previous work, we were able to show how tryptophan affects inflammation in the intestine," explains Professor Rosenstiel, director at the IKMB and member of the board of the PMI cluster of excellence.
“Now it has been shown that the omission of tryptophan also has an effect on inflammatory reactions in other parts of the body, through a mechanism that is independent of the signaling pathways known to date. Based on our results, we hope to find a new target for the treatment of MS in the future, ”continued Rosenstiel. (ad)
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