Intermittent fasting confers protection in CNS autoimmunity by altering the gut microbiota

Gut microbiota has been linked to several physiological and immune-related functions as well as it has been widely proven that the variety of microbes that inhabit human intestine can be influenced by social and dietary habits, as well as by chronical conditions such as diabetes. Furthermore, alterations or imbalances of the microbiota has often been theorized – although never unequivocally proven – as an important factor in the pathogenesis of several inflammatory conditions, including multiple sclerosis (SM); this fact, in particular, has been recently corroborated by the observation that the microbiota of MS patients differs significantly from that of their healthy counterpart. 

The authors of this paper, Franesca Cignella et al., had previously demonstrated that intermittent fasting (IF), is beneficial on the murine model of MS, i.e. experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), and decided to further investigate this strategy in order to understand whether its efficacy resides in the modulation of the gut flora; they also performed a small controlled randomized trial to understand if the same results can be observed when IF is applied to MS patients.

IF was able to induce significant changes in mouse microbiota that, once transfered to EAE, were protective in this model as they ameliorated clinical score, T cell pathogenetical features and the overall inflammatory status in these mice. Quite importantly, IF also was able to ameliorate the clinical condition in relapse-remitting MS patients.

Source: Cell metabolism

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