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Front Immunol. 2015 Nov 30;6:608. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2015.00608. eCollection 2015.

SLE: Another Autoimmune Disorder Influenced by Microbes and Diet?

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Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Virginia Tech , Blacksburg, VA , USA.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech , Blacksburg, VA , USA.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multi-system autoimmune disease. Despite years of study, the etiology of SLE is still unclear. Both genetic and environmental factors have been implicated in the disease mechanisms. In the past decade, a growing body of evidence has indicated an important role of gut microbes in the development of autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. However, such knowledge on SLE is little, though we have already known that environmental factors can trigger the development of lupus. Several recent studies have suggested that alterations of the gut microbial composition may be correlated with SLE disease manifestations, while the exact roles of either symbiotic or pathogenic microbes in this disease remain to be explored. Elucidation of the roles of gut microbes - as well as the roles of diet that can modulate the composition of gut microbes - in SLE will shed light on how this autoimmune disorder develops, and provide opportunities for improved biomarkers of the disease and the potential to probe new therapies. In this review, we aim to compile the available evidence on the contributions of diet and gut microbes to SLE occurrence and pathogenesis.


SLE; bacterial antigens; diet; estrogen; hygiene hypothesis; microbiota

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