Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Gut Bacteria

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Many “Auto immune” diseases such as Crohns, have eventually been found to be caused by a bacterial infection, now a devastating form of arthritis joins the list.

Science NOW, a daily publication of the AAAS, reported on November 4, 2013 that research to be published tomorrow in eLife shows a high correlation between Rheumatoid arthritis and an intestinal bacteria Provatella copri. Out of a sample of 114 individuals, 75% of those with that form or arthritis or recently diagnosed with it carried large quantities of P. copri, only 25% of healthy individuals had the bacteria.

Experiments with lab mice have produced similar results confirming a strong indication that the presence of an excessive amount of P. copri triggers an immune response specifically producing Th17 immune cells leading to the inflamed joints and damage caused by Rheumatoid arthritis.

A strong correlation with Psoriatic arthritis was also indicated in some tests.

The research was conducted by immunologist Diane Mathis of Harvard Medical School in Boston and Immunologist Dan Littman of New York University.

“That they were able to associate one bacterium with one pathology is remarkable,” says Yasmine Belkaid, an immunologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the work.

The possibilities opened up by this discovery are extremely important because in the future, both forms of arthritis may be treated by using antibiotics instead of Remicade, the standard treatment for advanced Rheumatiod arthritis but the medication poses many risks including cancer and serious infections.

A MAP infection often triggers Crohns Disease and other gut bacteria also influence obesity and various allergies.