Gut Bacteria May Hold Key to Treating Autoimmune Disease

Defects in the body's regulatory T cells (T reg cells) cause inflammation and autoimmune disease by altering the type of bacteria living in the gut, researchers from The University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center at Houston have discovered. The study, entitled "Resetting Microbiota by Lactobacillus Reuteri Inhibits T reg Deficiency-Induced Autoimmunity via Adenosine A2A Receptors," was published online on December 19, 2016 in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, and suggests that replacing the missing gut bacteria, or restoring a key metabolite called inosine, could help treat children with a rare and often fatal autoimmune disease called IPEX syndrome. T reg cells suppress the immune system and prevent it from attacking the body's own tissues by mistake. Defects in T reg cells therefore lead to various types of autoimmune disease. Mutations in the transcription factor Foxp3, for example, disrupt T reg function and cause IPEX syndrome. This inherited autoimmune disorder is characterized by a variety of inflammatory conditions including eczema, type I diabetes, and severe enteropathy. Without a stem cell transplant from a suitable donor, IPEX syndrome patients usually die before the age of two. Autoimmune diseases can also be caused by changes in the gut microbiome, the population of bacteria that reside within the gastrointestinal tract. In the study, the team led by Dr. Yuying Liu and Dr. J.
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