Gut Bacteria Contribute to MS Onset and Development, Rutgers Mouse Study Shows

Gut Bacteria Contribute to MS Onset and Development, Rutgers Mouse Study Shows

Exposure to certain gut bacteria at a young age may cause multiple sclerosis (MS) and fuel its progression, a new mouse study shows.

The study, “Gut dysbiosis breaks immunological tolerance toward the central nervous system during young adulthood,” appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In recent years, research on this autoimmune disease has focused on gut bacteria, with studies suggesting they can work as protective elements against MS. But others have shown they actually contribute to disease progression. Even so, these findings all support the hypothesis that regulating gut bacteria could represent a new potential therapy for MS.

With that in mind, researchers at New Jersey’s Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School conducted a study with mice genetically engineered to have MS-associated risk genes that had been previously identified in patients.

The team found that as long as mice were kept in a sterile, bacteria-free environment, they showed no signs of MS. However, once they were moved to a normal environment and were exposed to bacteria, they spontaneously developed experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an MS-like disease.

In addition, adolescent or young adult mice were more susceptible to MS than older animals. This, say researchers, may be due to an increased immunological tolerance that mice acquire as they age.

Analysis of gut bacteria populations showed that mice that developed EAE had higher amounts of Bacteroides vulgatus but lower amounts of Akkermansia muciniphila compared to controls.

Overall, this gut bacteria imbalance triggered pro-inflammatory signals and activated immune T-cells during the age window of mice in young adulthood, further supporting the role of gut bacteria in MS onset and progression.

“The findings could have therapeutic implications on slowing down MS progression by manipulating gut bacteria,” the study’s co-author, Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, said in a news release. Dhib-Jalbut, a neurology professor, is also director of the Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Center for Multiple Sclerosis.

The team won a grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund additional studies on the role of gut bacteria in MS development.


  1. Susan Parsonage says:

    I have had MS for over 20 years and for the last year I have been meat free and I can honestly say the progression of my MS has halted.

    • Adele Bonneville says:

      Susan can I ask what you use for protein in place of the meat you’ve removed from your diet? I’m diabetic as well,and I’d very much like to know more so I can still have a diabetic balanced diet, but at the same time slow my M.S. down, and I also believe this will also help with the fibro(geez)!!Does removing dairy help as well with the gut bacteria, and if so, again how do I continue to balance a diabetic diet?

      • Cale says:

        Adele ,I stoped earing meat and dairy 17 year go, when my consultant told me to cut back,
        Have been stable, I’m on lots green vegetable, fish,

  2. Rhonda Danielson says:

    I have one basic question; How long is it going to take to turn this interesting piece of datum into something useful that will prevent another million or more people from being devastated by MS?

    One week, one day longer than absolutely necessary would be cruel and inhumane. This is a treatment/preventative measure that should be fast tracked in both the US and the EU.

  3. Martha says:

    I have ms! Have terrible stomach cramps with diarrhea! Doubled over cramps! Pass out can’t hold head up! Been on fodmap diet for 3 years! No dairy etc, looking for help can’t find it they won’t say yes ms or no! They don’t know! My cervical spine doctor says it’s ms !what you think need help!

    • Martha,

      So sorry to hear you are suffering. Many people, including myself, took years to be officially diagnosed. However, studies have shown that starting a DMT, Disease Modifying Treatment as early as possible can delay the definitive diagnosis of MS and improves prognosis. Clinically Isolated Syndrome, CIS, can be diagnosed with only one Exacerbation (without meeting the full diagnostic requirements of “time and space” for MS diagnosis) and thus treatment can begin.

      If possible, I would recommend seeing a neurologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of MS.

    • Cale says:

      Hi Martha, I take magnesium wich the nurse told because I used suffer from reallly bad cramps Spasams. They seem to have stopped now.

    • Robin says:

      Hi Martha, so sorry to hear that you are suffering with horrible cramps. Have your doctor check you out for diverticulitis. That’s what I have on top of my auto immune disease. The magnesium that Cale recommended will certainly help. It helps you go to bathroom without struggling and assists with sleep too. That’s what my doctor and nutritionist placed me on. Also, Ive cut stopped process foods and have limited dairy and cut back on meat. I eat lots of wild caught salmon (grilled), organic chicken, (grilled), vegetables and lots of the berries Fruit (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries). No fried food and no fast food. Ive been eating like this for over 24 weeks. I’ve not had a flare up since. I hope this helps.

  4. Svend-Erik Andersen says:

    I would so much like if the researchers did speed up this solution for MS, could You possibly tell us where we can get the Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria from, thanks.
    – I got PPMS in 10 years

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