The research team asks whether the intestinal barrier is affected by MS, from left: Mehrnaz Nouri, Bjorn Weström and Shahram Lavasani. Missing in the picture Anders Bredberg.

I found a very interesting article today from Lund University in Sweden:

Damage to the intestinal barrier in multiple sclerosis.

Researchers at Lund University published new research on intestinal barrier’s role in the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis.
Within the world of medical science no one knows for sure how MS occurs and why the immune system attacks cells in the central nervous system (CNS). Inflammation occurs for unknown reasons allowing nerve impulses to deteriorate. This can cause various physical and mental symptoms, including numbness, motor difficulties, blurred vision, dizziness, and fatigue.

In the current study, researchers examined whether even bowel function attacked in MS. The results are based on a disease model for MS in mice, indicates inflammation and changes in intestinal barrier function early in the disease. The study is now published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

It is known that intestinal permeability to harmful substances is elevated in inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, but also in some other autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes. The condition is called ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Our studies indicate a leaky gut and increased inflammation in the intestinal mucosa and associated lymphoid tissues before clinical symptoms of MS are noticeable. It also appears that the inflammation increases with progression of the disease, says researcher and one of the study authors, Shahram Lavasani.

Shahram Lavasani and his colleagues at Lund University have previously shown that probiotic bacteria may provide some protection against MS. They have therefore raised the question of intestinal barrier is affected and investigated inflammatory cells and processes in the intestine. The hypothesis was tested in a research project in collaboration with Professor Bjorn Weström, PhD Mehrnaz Nouri and Associate Professor Anders Bredberg.

To our surprise, we saw structural changes in the small intestinal mucosa and an increase of inflammatory T cells, so called Th1 and Th17. At the same time, we saw a reduction in immunosuppressive, so-called regulatory T cells. These changes are often associated with inflammatory bowel disease, and biologically active molecules produced by Th1 and Th17 believed to be behind such damage to gut.

Neuroinflammatory processes in MS is thought to lead to damage, and “leakage” in the blood-brain barrier that protects the CNS and regulates the transport of cells and substances. Scientists have now seen similar injuries in the intestinal barrier, especially on the so-called “tight junctions” that binds cells of the gut and shows that these are linked to disease-specific T cells.

What triggers the autoimmune disease is in most cases unknown, but we know that the disease-causing cells operate and disturb the gut. A leaky gut allows harmful bacteria and toxic substances in the body and can be taken into the intestine, which creates even more inflammation. Our results support the idea that a damaged intestinal barrier in the body cannot normally be capable of interrupting an autoimmune reaction, but instead arises before a chronic disease such as MS, said Shahram Lavasani.

Shahram Lavasani and his colleagues believe that future medications against this type of disease may not only be directed against the CNS, but also the gut by repairing and restoring the intestinal barrier.

In the long run, we hope that our results can lead to better understanding of what actually happens during the disease process in MS. In an even longer perspective, we hope for a better treatment by targeting the intestinal barrier as a new therapeutic target.

The research group is now investigating other inflammatory parameters in the intestines that may affect the development of MS. The aim is to develop therapies that can heal the gut lining in the hope of being able to prevent the development of disease. Part of this work included in Mehrnaz NOURIS dissertation is to be presented later this year.

Intestinal Barrier Dysfunction Develops at the Onset of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis, and Can Be Induced by Adoptive Transfer of Auto-Reactive T Cells
Author: Mehrnaz Nouri, Anders Bredberg, Bjorn Weström, Shahram Lavasani

Here is the article in Swedish.

I’m glad that I have told you many times by now how to heal and seal a leaky gut!

Spread the word and save lives!