Is There A Link Between Arthritis and Bacteria
There are over 1.3 million Americans who suffer with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), the autoimmune disease that can cause debilitating inflammation in the joints. Although the condition may be hereditary, RA often seems to appear out of nowhere. Thanks to a new groundbreaking study, scientists may have an answer – and it’s in our stomach.
Living in the gut of all mammals are thousands of different types of bacteria -- many of which are essential for developing a normal immune system. But according to the new research, some of these bacteria also appear to play a part in the development of autoimmune diseases.
For the study, scientists raised mice that were genetically prone to developing arthritis in a germ-free environment. These mice had fewer arthritis-causing antibodies than those mice raised in a normal environment.
However, when the mice were put in a non-germ-free environment, and had something called “segmented filamentous bacteria” (which is a common gut bacteria) placed in their stomachs, the animals quickly started making antibodies and developed arthritis within only four days.
"This is an important, rather young, area of investigation," lead researcher of the study, Diane Mathis, a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, reported in the journal Immunity.