Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Low Levels of Anaerobic Bacteria in Gut
It is really nice to see research linking autoimmune conditions to the bacterial flora in the gut. While most patients and their doctors would give me “just commit him” looks if I suggested that a patients’ GI tract could be a contributing factor to their disease, the research is actually quite heavy if you know where to dig. The GI tract has the ability to up and/or down regulate the immune system and thus can be a major player in autoimmune disease. While this article focuses on the number of anaerobic bacteria, I think just the idea of this type of article is important to stimulate further research.
2002 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The population of anaerobic bacteria in the gastrointestinal system of patients with early-onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA) differs significantly from that of people without the disease, Finnish researchers reported. Recent attention has been focused on intestinal flora as a potential link to RA, Dr. Paarvo Toivanen, of Turku University, commented in his presentation at the 2002 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases. Dr. Toivanen and his colleagues conducted a study comparing fecal samples from 25 RA patients with 23 controls without RA but with noninflammatory pain. “RA patients were in the early stage of the disease, were not using any immunosuppressives, and were excluded from the study if they indicated previous usage of antibiotics within the last 2 months.” The scientists were able to identify a variety of anaerobic bacterial strains, which represent one third to one half of all the bacteria residing in the intestine. RA patients had markedly reduced levels of bacteria belonging to the Bacteroides, Prevotella, and Porphyromonas genera compared with controls (4.7% versus 9.5%, respectively). Dr. Toivanen suggested these strains could be important in maintaining the intestinal. “These bacteria may initially be necessary to fortify the intestinal epithelium,” Dr. Toivanen told meeting attendees. Bacteroides species in particular may be protective, the Finnish team believes.