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Modulation of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis through colonisation of the gut with Escherichia coli

Libbey, JE;Sanchez, JMS;Fleming, BA;Doty, DJ;DePaula-Silva, AB;Mulvey, MA;Fujinami, RS;

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neuro-inflammatory autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that affects young adults. It is characterised by the development of demyelinating lesions and inflammation within the CNS. Although the causes of MS are still elusive, recent work using patient samples and experimental animal models has demonstrated a strong relationship between the gut microbiota and its contribution to CNS inflammation and MS. While there is no cure for MS, alteration of the gut microbiota composition through the use of probiotics is a very promising treatment. However, while most recent works have focused on the use of probiotics to modify pre-existing disease, little is known about its role in protecting from the establishment of MS. In this study, we determined whether colonisation with the probiotic bacterium Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 (EcN) could be used as a prophylactic strategy to prevent or alter the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a preclinical model of MS. We found that double gavage (two doses) of EcN before induction of EAE delayed disease onset and decreased disease severity. We also found that EcN-treated mice had decreased amounts of perivascular cuffing, CD4+ T cell infiltration into the CNS, together with significantly decreased absolute numbers of Th1 cells, and reduced activation of microglia. Although further studies are necessary to comprehend the exact protective mechanisms induced, our study supports a promising use of EcN as a probiotic for the prevention of MS.