Multiple sclerosis therapy improves gut flora
A medication used to treat MS also has a beneficial effect on the composition of the intestinal flora, according to researchers from the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel. Conversely, the gut flora also plays a role in which side effects occur during treatment with the medication.
30 November 2022 | Angelika Jacobs
Few previous studies have examined the effects of MS treatments on intestinal flora and on the role their composition plays with regard to efficacy and side effects. A team of researchers at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel has now examined these questions in a group of 20 MS patients being treated with dimethyl fumarate. The team led by Professor Anne-Katrin Pröbstel, senior physician in Neurology and research group leader, and Professor Adrian Egli, who recently moved to the University of Zurich, published their findings in the journal Gut Microbes.
The medication, which is sold under the brand name Tecfidera, reduces the number of MS flare-ups by interfering with the metabolic processes of certain immune cells. However, the therapy is also associated with side effects, including hot flashes and gastrointestinal complaints, and in some cases lymphopenia, a lack of lymphocytes such as B cells and T cells in the blood. This can lead to severe complications.
More “good” bacteria
In their study, the researchers examined stool and blood samples from participants before and during the first twelve months of the treatment. Their focus was on the composition of the gut microbiome. Pröbstel and her team also measured the number of lymphocytes in the blood in order to identify patients who were experiencing lymphopenia as a side effect.
Martin Diebold, Marco Meola et al.
Gut microbiota composition as a candidate risk factor for dimethyl fumarate-induced lymphopenia in multiple sclerosis.
Gut Microbes (2022), doi: 10.1080/19490976.2022.2147055