Multiple Sclerosis: Bacterial Link?


Could Food Borne Pathogens Cause MS?

by Kathleen Lees

A recent study suggests that food poisoning could be a trigger for multiple sclerosis (MS) in those who are already highly susceptible to certain diseases.

According to researchers from the Weill Cornell Medical College, they found that toxins produced by common foodborne bacteria were linked to MS. This debilitating inflammatory disease involves the immune system’s attack of the central nervous system and is often characterized by blood brain permeability and demyelination that insulates myelin sheaths surround nerve fibers that become more damaged over time as the disease progresses.

The study suggest that epilson toxin, a strain that’s produced byClostridium perfringens, can cause blood brain permeability. C. perfringens is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness in the United States–a bacteria that’s often found in many foods, including beef, poultry or pre-cooked or dried food products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What’s even more concerning is that researchers discovered how the epsilon toxins produced by C. perfringens can destroy oligodendrocytes, which are the cells the produce the myelin sheath-yet consequently die in the process due to the disease.

Lead study author Jennifer Linden of the medical college had found through previous experiments with mice how the toxins targeted brain cells, solidifying a link between epsilon toxin and the disease.

“Originally, we only thought that epsilon toxin would target the brain endothelium cells and oligodendrocytes; we just happened to notice that it also bound to and killed meningeal cells. This was exciting because it provides a possible explanation for meningeal inflammation and subpial cortical lesions exclusively observed in MS patients, but not fully understood,” said Linden, via a press release.

Researchers believe these findings are particularly important because it shows how the toxin can trigger disease in the body. If researchers could develop a neutralized antibody to prevent the toxin from spreading, they might be able to reduce the risk of this and other diseases.

More information regarding the findings were presented at the 2014 ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting.

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