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Mucosal Immunol. 2010 Sep;3(5):487-95. doi: 10.1038/mi.2010.29. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

A polysaccharide from the human commensal Bacteroides fragilis protects against CNS demyelinating disease.

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Department of Medicine and Neurology, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA.


The intestinal microbiome may have a critical roll in susceptibility or resistance to immune-mediated diseases. Alterations of the gut microflora after oral antibiotic treatment can regulate encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for human multiple sclerosis (MS). We now show that a zwitterionic capsular polysaccharide A (PSA) of Bacteroides fragilis can protect against central nervous system demyelinating disease. Oral administration with purified PSA protected mice against EAE prophylactic and therapeutically. PSA treatment enhanced CD103 expressing dendritic cells (DCs) that accumulated in the cervical lymph nodes. Exposure of naïve DCs to PSA induced the conversion of naïve CD4(+) T cells into interleukin (IL)-10-producing FoxP3(+)Treg cells. Protection against EAE was completely abrogated in IL-10-deficient mice. Our results show an important role for a molecule from human commensal bacteria in protecting against EAE and suggest the possibility for protection in MS.

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