Immune Cells from the Gut Are Recruited to Fight Multiple Sclerosis

“We already knew what was and was not working in the clinic,” said Jen Gommerman, PhD, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto and the senior author on the study. “But here we’ve uncovered the molecular and cellular mechanism at play. It’s a kind of reverse translation approach, which highlights the importance of the gut-brain axis in MS and other autoimmune conditions.”

Canada and the U.S. have among the highest rates of MS in the world, with around three in every thousand individuals affected. Symptoms can include fatigue, poor coordination, tingling, organ problems and cognitive impairment. There is no cure, although quicker diagnoses and better drugs have improved outcomes significantly in the last 15 years.

“IgAs comprise 80 per cent of all antibodies in the body, yet their exact function is still not fully understood,” said Sergio Baranzini, PhD, a co-author on the paper who is a professor of neurology in the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. “Showing that IgA-producing B cells can travel from the gut to the brain opens a new page in the book of neuroinflammatory diseases and could be the first step towards producing novel treatments to modulate or stop MS and related neurological disorders.”

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