In a stunning results, researchers at the Max Planck Institute ( Yes, they do not do only fundamental physics..) propose that, quoting from  [1-3];

“…Natural intestinal flora involved in the emergence of multiple sclerosis” . In other words, “…Beneficial intestinal bacteria can activate immune cells and trigger the overreaction of the immune system..”

How would that work?

  • First the bacteria induce T cells in the lymph vessels of the intestinal tract become active and proliferate.
  • Then the T-cells stimulate the B cells to form pathogenic antibodies. Autoreactive T and B lymphocytes then attack  brain white matter.
  • Both processes trigger inflammatory reactions in the brain which progressively destroy the myelin layer


Our brain under MS attack

The general idea is that, at least in some cases, the bacteria induce inflammation in the brain. The German paper did not elaborate on how the inflammation travels from the gut wall to the brain. However, we have discussed the connection brain /gut has been in a previous post of the Boomerscorner [4], at least on the nerve signal level.

Keep n mind that the Max Planck researchers do not know yet which bacteria could be the culprit:

“…Precisely which bacteria are involved in the emergence of multiple sclerosis remains unclear. Possible candidates are clostridiums, which can have direct contact with the intestinal wall..”

Consulting the  table of commercially available probiotics bacteria strain  from the Wikipedia page on probiotics , I did not see clostridium there..

Confused? You are not alone,  previous research that probiotics of various sorts should be helpful against multiple sclerosis (MS).[5,6]

Note that the studies mentioned were performed on mice aflicted with a disease similar to MS, not on MS patients. Keep in mind that the use of probiotics for various therapies is currently researched [7]. However, caution about the use of probiotics in general and their safety has been advised as well expressed in Gut Microbes [8]

Quoting: “…The field of probiotic safety is characterized by the scarcity of studies specifically designed to assess safety contrasted with the long history of safe use of many of these microbes in foods…”

Another piece of the puzzle sounds a caution alarm: a study has incriminated Gut-Residing Bacteria Trigger Rheumatoid Arthritis, another auto-immune disease, in Genetically Susceptible Individuals.[9]. That study seemed to follow a similar approach as the Max Planck’s Institute. Showing that the introduction of bacterium in some mice triggered RA.

So what gives?

Here is our journalistic opinion: every bacterium is different and you probably have to track extensively the pedigree of each. So the shotgun approach of throwing probiotic bacteria as a universal health support is probably questionable.

As to our MS friends, the Max Planck Institute  would suggest to wait before jumping into massive indiscriminate probiotic products consumption until the probiotics effects on Multiple Sclerosis settles and researchers better  understand the MS mechanism involved at our gut walls.

The real question could also be does it matter which bacterium, all the auto-immune reaction needs is, just that, an inflammatory reaction.

Talk to your Doctor…



[1] Healthy Living, “Multiple Sclerosis is triggered by friendly bacteria residing in the gut”; Christine Stomes; October 30, 2011

[2] Max Planck Institute ;”Natural intestinal flora involved in the emergence of multiple sclerosis”;

[3] Nature ; “Commensal microbiota and myelin autoantigen cooperate to trigger autoimmune demyelination” ; Kerstin Berer,Marsilius Mues,Michail Koutrolos,Zakeya Al Rasbi,Marina Boziki,Caroline Johner,Hartmut Wekerle, Gurumoorthy Krishnamoorthy; 26 October 2011

[4] BoomersCorner ; “Nutrition: Does Probiotic Nutrition Support Good Mental Health? September 1, 2011

[5] MediNewsDigest ; “Study Shows Probiotics Show Promise Against Multiple Sclerosis”

[6] MediNewsDigest ; “Multiple Sclerosis: Unusual Probiotics Alternative Therapy”;

[7]Clin Microbiol Rev. 2003 October; 16(4): 658–672. “Potential Uses of Probiotics in Clinical Practice; Gregor Reid, Jana Jass, M. Tom Sebulsky and John K. McCormick

[8] GutMicrobes ; “Safety assessment of probiotics for human use. 2010 May-Jun; 1(3): 164–185.

[9] sciencedaily ; “Gut-Residing Bacteria Trigger Arthritis in Genetically Susceptible Individuals; June 17, 2010″


Published online 2010 March 4



4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks for this entry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current month ye@r day *

© 2013-2019 Medical News Digest All Rights Reserved