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BMC Neurol. 2016 Sep 21;16(1):182.

Associations between the gut microbiota and host immune markers in pediatric multiple sclerosis and controls.

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Faculty of Medicine (Neurology), University of British Columbia, Room S178, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 2B5, Canada.
University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.



As little is known of association(s) between gut microbiota profiles and host immunological markers, we explored these in children with and without multiple sclerosis (MS).


Children ≤18 years provided stool and blood. MS cases were within 2-years of onset. Fecal 16S rRNA gene profiles were generated on an Illumina Miseq platform. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated, and Treg (CD4+CD25hiCD127lowFoxP3+) frequency and CD4+ T-cell intracellular cytokine production evaluated by flow cytometry. Associations between microbiota diversity, phylum-level abundances and immune markers were explored using Pearson's correlation and adjusted linear regression.


Twenty-four children (15 relapsing-remitting, nine controls), averaging 12.6 years were included. Seven were on a disease-modifying drug (DMD) at sample collection. Although immune markers (e.g. Th2, Th17, Tregs) did not differ between cases and controls (p > 0.05), divergent gut microbiota associations occurred; richness correlated positively with Th17 for cases (r = +0.665, p = 0.018), not controls (r = -0.644, p = 0.061). Bacteroidetes inversely associated with Th17 for cases (r = -0.719, p = 0.008), not controls (r = +0.320, p = 0.401). Fusobacteria correlated with Tregs for controls (r = +0.829, p = 0.006), not cases (r = -0.069, p = 0.808).


Our observations motivate further exploration to understand disruption of the microbiota-immune balance so early in the MS course.


16S rRNA; Case–control study; Disease-modifying drugs; Gut microbiota; Immune markers; Microbiota-immune balance; Pediatric multiple sclerosis; Risk factors

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