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Journal Article

Multiple sclerosis and microbiota. From genome to metagenome?


Wekerle,  H.
Emeritus Group: Neuroimmunology / Wekerle, MPI of Neurobiology, Max Planck Society;

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Hohlfeld, R., & Wekerle, H. (2015). Multiple sclerosis and microbiota. From genome to metagenome? Nervenarzt, 86(8), 925-933. doi:10.1007/s00115-014-4248-7.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0028-5147-7
The individual risk of contracting multiple sclerosis (MS) is determined by genetic predisposition as well as environmental factors. In monozygotic twins the concordance rate for MS is approximately 30 % indicating that environmental factors are even more important than genetic factors. Observations in a T-cell receptor-transgenic, spontaneous mouse model strongly point to an important contribution of the individual gut microbiome (microbiota). Mice maintained in a germ-free environment are completely protected from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in this model, whereas mice that are kept under normal conditions spontaneously develop a relapsing-remitting central nervous system (CNS) disease which is astoundingly similar to human MS. It appears that the autoimmune reaction against CNS tissue is "remotely controlled" by the gut microbiota. This may be explained by the facts that the microbiota influences the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and, vice versa, the GALT regulates systemic immunity. The precise role of the microbiota in MS remains to be clarified. New methods of DNA sequencing and bioinformatics allow the analysis of very complex bacterial metagenomes. If individual microbial risk profiles can be identified this would provide completely new perspectives for the prophylaxis and therapy of MS.