Common Human Bacteria May Trigger Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

A recent study suggests that a common human bacteria found in the mouth may trigger or increase the severity of MS symptoms. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that can cause a variety of neurological symptoms which might include muscle weakness, speech and motor difficulties. A substance produced by a common oral bacterium seems to enhance the inflammatory responses of the body which in turn affects those with MS.

A common human oral bacterium known as porphyromas gingivalis produces a type of lipid, phosphorylated dihydroceramides or DHC’s. This unique lipid has been known to affect the body’s inflammatory response. These same lipids are likely to also be produced by bacteria found in other parts of the body. To determine if such lipids may be associated with enhancing the severity of damage caused by autoimmune diseases like MS, researchers from the university of Connecticut Health Center tested the lipids on a mouse model of MS.

The researchers, led by Robert B. Clark and Frank C. Nichols administered phosphorylated DHC’s on a group of mice with a disease closely similar to the human type of MS. This resulted in the increase in the severity of the disease in a manner dependent on the activation of the immune system.

The data they were able to compile suggests that the phosphorylated DHC’s produced by common bacteria found in humans may trigger or increase the severity of autoimmune diseases like MS. The researchers believe that these lipids may play a previously unrecognized role in the severity of autoimmune diseases. Further study may be needed in order for researchers to further identify the role that these lipids may play on triggering autoimmune diseases such as MS.

Source: American Journal of Pathology. "Factors from Common Human Bacteria May Trigger Multiple Sclerosis." ScienceDaily 24 November 2009. 8 December 2009 <http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/11/091123171418.htm>