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Collaborative effort shows gut bacteria synchronize both arms of immune system

Wednesday, Cell Host and Microbe published the results of a collaborative study done on gut bacteria and it’s benefits on our immune system and, with multiple sclerosis (MS) being a disease that attacks a person’s immune system, the results are pretty exciting. [see summary]

Researchers collaborate to work through immune system and your gut bacteria
Geoffrey Whiteway/Stock Vault

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, the University of California and Massachusetts General Hospital were able to show polysaccharide A (PSA), a molecule that is found on a bacterium (Bacteroides fragilis) in the gut, can regulate both arms of the immune system.

Both arms of the immune system, the innate and the adaptive immunity, are what are needed to fight diseases such as MS. Simply put, viruses that survive the innate immune response are then handled by the more detailed-acquired immune response.

Dennis Kasper, corresponding author from Harvard Medical School, said, “It’s that double signal. It’s that presentation of the PSA molecule through the adaptive arm, linked with all of the right signals from the innate immune system, all contacting the T cell, that send the T cell in this direction. If you knock out the adaptive arm or the innate arm, you don't get this effect on inflammation. It requires both working together."

This particular gut bacteria theory and the phase two study being done by Teva on the synergy of Copaxone and estriol, a female estrogen; are both somewhat related in they are both going back to the ‘Old Friends’ hypothesis.

Yesterday’s publication relates to literal gut bacteria and estriol relates to a woman’s seemingly natural ability to combat MS during pregnancy. A fetus is considered a parasite, of a sort in that the baby will ‘feed’ off a woman’s body during pregnancy, and this is where the correlation between the two studies comes into play.

It will be possible for many with MS to get past the ick factor of human gut bacteria if the success rate on each study keeps being published and shared. Knowing of it and all its benefits is nothing compared to having to deal with all the shots, IVs and symptoms of the disease.

For local help with multiple sclerosis: for those who live in Lima, Ohio (and Northwest Ohio) the Ohio Buckeye chapter can be reached at: 6155 Rockside Road, Suite 202 Independence, Ohio 44131 or at toll free phone number 1-800-344-4867. They can also be found on Facebook at:

Sources: Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells Mediate Anti-inflammatory Responses to a Gut Commensal Molecule via Both Innate and Adaptive Mechanisms, Suryasarathi Dasgupta, Deniz Erturk-Hasdemir, Javier Ochoa-Reparaz,, Hans-Christian Reinecker, Dennis L. Kasper;, Richard Richter;, Elizabeth Cooney

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