Researchers say that the plasma cells found in the stomach might help with the fight against multiple sclerosis.
According to a new research, plasma cells from the stomach can make their way to the central nervous system in times of flare-ups, and help against inflammation.
Bruce Bebo, PhD, and executive vice president of research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society says that “it’s astounding.” He further elaborates by saying: “This observation, that plasma cells migrate from gut to brain and have a role in regulating a mouse model of MS, is incredibly unique and different. I’ve never heard of an observation like this before.”
According to researchers, microbes found in the stomach can cause a change in plasma, that usually originates in the bone marrow as B cells.
Jennifer L. Gommerman, PhD, an author of the study and professor/associate chair of graduate studies in the department of immunology at the University of Toronto said that “we found that not all plasma cells are bad. In autoimmune disease, some quiet the inflammation.”
“We also found that plasma cells in the gut make an immunoglobulin called IgA and have the capacity to make other products to end inflammation. And, they have the ability to migrate to other parts of the body,” she further explained.
Gommerman said that “[The research] gives us ideas of potentially treating the disease. Plasma cells go to the brain. The trouble with anti-inflammatories is getting drugs into the brain. This might be a solution.”
Sergio E. Baranzini, PhD, a professor in the department of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, emphasized that while Gommerman did her studies on mice, human studies have yielded similar results.
“[We’re] focusing on a role of gut bacteria and multiple sclerosis. We are mapping all the gut bacteria that we think are linked to MS, or at least more prevalent or less prevalent,” said Baranzini.
Gommerman and Baranzini saw each other 11 and a half years ago at a conference, and, after they realized the similarities in their separate research, they made a decision to do a cooperate.
“We observed that during a relapse the quantities of IgA diminished in the gut,” said Baranzini. “And, we found that during a relapse there was an increase of IgA in cerebral spinal fluid.”
“Then we found that once they go to the brain, they are helping by producing interleukin 10 (IL-10), which dampens inflammation,” he added.
On another note, he said that “typically, antibodies are directed against something specific, for example, the flu,” and ended up by saying that “we still don’t know what the specifics of the IgA is, so we are now working on identifying this specificity.”
What is next about the health of the stomach and Multiple sclerosis fight
According to Gommerman, the experiments were done genetically. “But, can we do it pharmacologically and make this concept into a drug?” she added.
Dr. Barbara Geisser, professor of clinical neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and clinical director of the UCLA MS program emphasized that the stomach is a very important organ, and that it is well-known that the stomach’s immune function, stomach microbes, and MS have close interactions between them.
“This study, by reporting that gut immune cells can travel to the brain and reduce inflammation, elucidates what appears to be a key mechanism by which the gut immune cells and the gut microbiome can influence immune function in multiple sclerosis, and may be an avenue for future therapeutic intervention,” said Giesser.
This study had partial funding by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, as a part of a greater collection of research that deals with the connection between microbiota and the health of the stomach with the brain.
According to the research results, stomach microbiota shows discrepancies between healthy people and people with MS. Those discrepancies, however, are not the same everywhere.
Bebo noted that there is no causal connection, just an association” between the health of the stomach and MS.
Bebo states that their goal is to understand how those cells could be promoted by a healthy microbiome, and what would that look like. “There is nothing actionable yet. We don’t know to what degree the cells are controlling the immune response leading to the damage from MS,” he added.
He further said that the results imply that the cells have a role to play in all of this, and it’s very important to have a better understanding of our diet and how the manipulation of microbiota in the stomach can have a positive effect on our general health. “This research triggers unanswered questions and opens up a whole new area of investigation,” he elaborated.
He ends by stating that evidence that supports the idea of stomach bacteria has a certain effect on the brain and that we are one step closer to finding out the connection, with our knowledge expanding with every new research done on the subject.
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