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Neurotherapeutics. 2018 Jan;15(1):126-134. doi: 10.1007/s13311-017-0587-y.

The Role of the Gut Microbiome in Multiple Sclerosis Risk and Progression: Towards Characterization of the "MS Microbiome".

Author information

1
Department of Neurology and Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
2
Department of Neurology and Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. sergio.baranzini@ucsf.edu.
3
Institute for Human Genetics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. sergio.baranzini@ucsf.edu.
4
Graduate Program in Bioinformatics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. sergio.baranzini@ucsf.edu.

Abstract

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the prototypic complex disease, in which both genes and the environment contribute to its pathogenesis. To date, > 200 independent loci across the genome have been associated with MS risk. However, these only explain a fraction of the total phenotypic variance, suggesting the possible presence of additional genetic factors, and, most likely, also environmental factors. New DNA sequencing technologies have enabled the sequencing of all kinds of microorganisms, including those living in and around humans (i.e., microbiomes). The study of bacterial populations inhabiting the gut is of particular interest in autoimmune diseases owing to their key role in shaping immune responses. In this review, we address the potential crosstalk between B cells and the gut microbiota, a relevant scenario in light of recently approved anti-B-cell therapies for MS. In addition, we review recent efforts to characterize the gut microbiome in patients with MS and discuss potential challenges and future opportunities. Finally, we describe the international MS microbiome study, a multicenter effort to study a large population of patients with MS and their healthy household partners to define the core MS microbiome, how it is shaped by disease-modifying therapies, and to explore potential therapeutic interventions.

KEYWORDS:

B cells; Gut microbiome; consortia; dysbiosis; genetics; multiple sclerosis; progression

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