Last week our researchers and physicians discussed a paper about the lungs' role in central nervous system autoimmunity.
The lungs play a role in central nervous system (CNS) autoimmunity, as smoking and lung infections are risk factors for MS. However, the exact mechanisms for how the lungs affect CNS autoimmunity are unknown. In this study, researchers examined how an antibiotic-mediated dysregulation of the lung microbiome, or dysbiosis, could impact CNS autoimmune processes. They found that dysbiosis significantly improved clinical disability scores and decreased CNS immune cell reactivity in rats with experimental autoimmune encephalitis, an animal model of MS. They found that this occurs through a shift in microbiota toward lipopolysaccharide-producing bacteria, which in turn affects the immune state of microglia, the primary innate immune cells of the CNS. This work establishes the presence of a CNS-lung connection, opening up a new area of study for how outside factors can lead to CNS autoimmune diseases like MS.