Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Study links intestinal bacteria to rheumatoid arthritis

Bacterial disturbances in the gut may play a role in autoimmune attacks on the joints, pointing the way to novel treatments and diagnostics

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Researchers have linked a species of intestinal bacteria known as Prevotella copri to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, the first demonstration in humans that the chronic inflammatory joint disease may be mediated in part by specific intestinal bacteria. The new findings by laboratory scientists and clinical researchers in rheumatology at NYU School of Medicine add to the growing evidence that the trillions of microbes in our body play an important role in regulating our health.

Using sophisticated DNA analysis to compare gut bacteria from fecal samples of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and healthy individuals, the researchers found that P. copri was more abundant in patients newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis than in healthy individuals or patients with chronic, treated rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, the overgrowth of P. copri was associated with fewer beneficial gut bacteria belonging to the genera Bacteroides.

"Studies in rodent models have clearly shown that the intestinal microbiota contribute significantly to the causation of systemic autoimmune diseases," says Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD, the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Professor of Pathology and Microbiology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

"Our own results in mouse studies encouraged us to take a closer look at patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and we found this...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.