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What do probiotics have to do with rheumatoid arthritis?

What do probiotics have to do with rheumatoid arthritis?

The public health dialogue has included a number of conversations and debates over the benefits of probiotics in recent months. While extensive study is still needed on the topic, researchers now know more than ever about the tiny microbes that live in the human gastrointestinal tract.

Probiotics line the intestines, warding off harmful bacteria and allowing a number of processes - many of them as yet unstudied - to occur. According to The Atlantic, new research has highlighted a potential link between the microbiome (the community of microbes that live in the gastrointestinal tract) and rheumatoid arthritis.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

A common and painful affliction that affects the joints, rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disease - meaning, a disease in which the immune system fights against the body itself. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the disease affects about 400,000 Australians, making it the second most common type of arthritis.

Studies suggest microbiome-arthritis link

A study published in the US National Library of Medicine found that rheumatoid arthritis sufferers had a strain of bacteria called Prevotella copri in their digestive tracts more often than people who didn't have the disease. Prevotella copri may therefore be an example of a bacteria strain that poses a threat, and might be warded off by 'good' bacteria such as those found in probiotics.

The finding is exciting for researchers, because it reinforces recent thinking that altering the microbiome could be a useful way to achieve various health effects.

"It's become more and more clear that these microbes can affect the immune system, even in diseases that are not in the gut," Veena Taneja, an immunologist for the Mayo Clinic, told The Atlantic.

What's the mechanism?

Now that researchers are aware of the potential connection, they have begun analysing possible mechanisms for the apparent correlation. One thought is that the digestive tract acts on the defensive each time new foods (and potential harmful bacteria) enter the body, and produces immune cells that trigger inflammation. Inflammation has been credited with playing a role in a number of chronic problems, and it is known to be a primary cause for arthritis.

Another theory is that the bacteria Prevotella copri could take resources away from healthy microbes that prevent autoimmune reactions. This idea was reinforced by the fact that researchers found a correlation between high levels of the strain and a decrease in the bacteria Bacteroides fragilis.

As researchers learn more about the benefits of probiotics, they will undoubtedly continue looking into ways the microbiome may affect sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.

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What do probiotics have to do with rheumatoid arthritis?

The public health dialogue has included a number of conversations and debates over the benefits of probiotics in recent months. While extensive study is still needed on the topic, researchers now know more than ever about the tiny microbes that live in the human gastrointestinal tract.

Probiotics line the intestines, warding off harmful bacteria and allowing a number of processes - many of them as yet unstudied - to occur. According to The Atlantic, new research has highlighted a potential link between the microbiome (the community of microbes that live in the gastrointestinal tract) and rheumatoid arthritis.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

A common and painful affliction that affects the joints, rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disease - meaning, a disease in which the immune system fights against the body itself. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the disease affects about 400,000 Australians, making it the second most common type of arthritis.

Studies suggest microbiome-arthritis link

A study published in the US National Library of Medicine found that rheumatoid arthritis sufferers had a strain of bacteria called Prevotella copri in their digestive tracts more often than people who didn't have the disease. Prevotella copri may therefore be an example of a bacteria strain that poses a threat, and might be warded off by 'good' bacteria such as those found in probiotics.

The finding is exciting for researchers, because it reinforces recent thinking that altering the microbiome could be a useful way to achieve various health effects.

"It's become more and more clear that these microbes can affect the immune system, even in diseases that are not in the gut," Veena Taneja, an immunologist for the Mayo Clinic, told The Atlantic.

What's the mechanism?

Now that researchers are aware of the potential connection, they have begun analysing possible mechanisms for the apparent correlation. One thought is that the digestive tract acts on the defensive each time new foods (and potential harmful bacteria) enter the body, and produces immune cells that trigger inflammation. Inflammation has been credited with playing a role in a number of chronic problems, and it is known to be a primary cause for arthritis.

Another theory is that the bacteria Prevotella copri could take resources away from healthy microbes that prevent autoimmune reactions. This idea was reinforced by the fact that researchers found a correlation between high levels of the strain and a decrease in the bacteria Bacteroides fragilis.

As researchers learn more about the benefits of probiotics, they will undoubtedly continue looking into ways the microbiome may affect sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.

What do probiotics have to do with rheumatoid arthritis?
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