Multiple Sclerosis Flare-Ups May Be Linked to Fatty Acids
Researchers from two Germany universities have connected the type of fatty acids prevalent in the diet to the improvement or decline of autoimmune disease symptoms. Using mice bred to replicate multiple sclerosis (MS) conditions in humans, the researchers tested different types of fatty acids and their reactions to gut bacteria, a factor long considered to be key in understanding MS.
How do fatty acids affect MS?
The mice that were fed mainly medium- and long-chain fatty acids, prevalent in the American diet, showed an increase in MS symptom severity. Tests revealed the longer-chain fatty acids caused proinflammation T-cells to grow and spread from the intestinal wall to other parts of the body. These T-cells can change function to either help or harm the MS patient.
Mice fed on a diet with short-chain fatty acids, which occur in fiber-rich foods and are only metabolized by the gut bacteria, showed an improvement in their symptoms. Their intestinal walls released regulatory T-cells rather than proinflammation cells which helped reduce the symptoms and their severity.
This research, reported in the journal Immunity, is now being considered for potential use in further studies with dietary supplements for potential MS symptom treatment. Other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis could also eventually benefit from these findings as more research is conducted.
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