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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Imbalances in Brain Microbiota May Be Behind Demyelination in MS


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Alterations in microorganisms in the brains of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients could contribute to underlying disease mechanisms, including demyelination, according to researchers.
It is widely recognized that the balance of resident microorganisms (the microbiota) in different tissues is important to both health and disease. Imbalances in organ-specific microbiota are commonly associated with disease.
In MS, inflammatory damage to myelin, the protective layer covering nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord, affects the white matter, inducing characteristic MS symptoms. But it is still not clear why such demyelination happens. Some studies have shown that, in part, bacteria may cause this process.
Researchers here investigated bacterial quantity and genetic diversity in autopsy brain samples from patients with MS, and compared them with age- and sex-matched samples from people without MS, which served as controls.
Tested samples of cerebral white matter presented low bacterial burden and replication, compared to active bacterial infections in other tissues, they reported. This is, however, not surprising given the sensitivity of the brain to invaders like bacteria and its defenses.

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