Study: Abnormal Gut Bacteria Might Be Linked To SLE
Some new (and exciting) research has recently been released revealing an irregular mix of bacteria in the gut, especially a rise in the Ruminococcus gnavus bacteria, may be linked to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Bacteria active in a person’s gut, also referred to as gut microbiome, can often offer an unusual kind of biological inconsistency. On the one hand, they are needed for a healthy body, and one can’t live without them; however, the immune system is also set up to identify, focus on, and eliminate any invaders with bacteria. As SLE is a result of autoimmunity, where the immune system can begin to attack cells that are healthy within the body, researchers often question if there is a link to gut microbiome and the condition.
As SLE is more common in women, the study team gathered samples of feces and blood from 61 female participants, as well as 17 other (healthy) individuals who shared similar traits in terms of race and ace.
Lupus News Today revealed that the research team performed an analysis technique known as 16S rRNA on the feces samples, allowing them to identify what bacterial species were present. Interestingly enough, those participants with SLE had (on average) five times more of the Ruminococcus gnavus bacteria, versus the other healthy participants. Additional research showed that higher levels of this bacteria were linked with flare ups in the condition.
The research team also took a look for antibodies that targeted the R. gnavus bacteria within the SLE participants’ blood samples. What was revealed was levels of these antibodies were closely linked to the SLE condition activity index scores, and those SLE participants with kidney flares had quite high rates of the antibody.
This is certainly interesting as, in theory that is, the R. gnavus bacteria lives harmlessly in the gut and doesn’t really require an immune response of any level.
Further analysis revealed that the antibodies found targeted regions of the cell wall on the bacteria. The team theorized that this could be that bits of the bacteria in one’s gut might be breaking off and falling into the bloodstream, thus triggering immune activity. Still, this is quite speculative and more research is needed to confirm this concept.
As the link between SLE and gut bacteria was only found, no causality around it, there is a possibility that autoimmune SLE flares in the gut region promote the growth of this bacteria, versus R. gnavus triggering lupus flares.
Still, the team feels very optimistic that the findings from this research has helped to pave a path for additional research to find out exactly how gut bacteria might affect the progression of SLE.
The even better news is that the team has suggested that if this model and research is confirmed, it could lead to new strategies and treatments for SLE moving forward, such as a probiotic to help control the growth of the R. gnavus bacteria.