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Intestinal bacteria linked to rheumatoid arthritis

By Tim Sandle     Nov 9, 2013 in Science
Researchers have linked a species of intestinal bacteria known as Prevotella copri to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. This is the first time that the condition has been linked with bacteria.
To show the bacteria–arthritis link, researchers used DNA analysis to compare gut bacteria from fecal samples of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and healthy individuals, the researchers found that the bacterium P. copri was more abundant in patients newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis than in healthy individuals or patients with chronic, treated rheumatoid arthritis.
Why P. copri growth seems to take off in newly diagnosed patients with rheumatoid arthritis is also unclear. This could be linked to a number of factors, including diet and genetic factors. Despite the obvious need for more research, this insight could lead to the development of new medications.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks joint tissue and causes painful, often debilitating stiffness and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis is treated with an assortment of medications, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs like steroids, and immunosuppressive therapies that tame immune reactions. Little is understood about how these medications affect gut bacteria.
The research was carried out at the NYU School of Medicine and the findings have been published in the journal eLife, in paper titled “Expansion of intestinal Prevotella copri correlates with enhanced susceptibility to arthritis.”
More about Bacteria, Gut, Rheumatic arthritis, Arthritis
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