Can Probiotics Help In Multiple Sclerosis? What You Need To Know

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Welcome to my blog post ‘Can Probiotics Help In Multiple Sclerosis? What You Need To Know’ where I discuss some of the research exploring probiotics and their anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating and neuro-inflammatory benefits..

You may also be interested in the section of my blog dedicated to gut health, click here, in particular:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is considered to be a distinguished inflammatory, demyelinating and autoimmune neurological disorder affecting 2.5 million people worldwide. Frequently observed symptoms are numbness, fatigue, vision loss, dizziness, cognitive defects, depression, and bowel dysfunction. MS risk factors can be categorised into two types: genetic and environmental. The key factors initiating MS, for the most part, continue to remain unknown. MS pathology is characterised by an increase in inflammatory responses, destruction of myelin sheaths, proliferation of astrocytes, microglia activation, gliosis, and axonal degeneration (1).

Anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory treatments can prevent or delay the progression of the MS.

Findings reveal that the gut microbiome may well have a notable role in the immune system regulation and exerting anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and metabolic effects in the host. The latter suggests that targeting gut microbiome might be a crucial target for prevention, management, and control of the inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

How Does The Gut Microbiome Help In Multiple Sclerosis?

The gut microbiota helps the host (us) remain healthy by regulating various functions, including food metabolism, energy homeostasis, maintenance of the intestinal barrier, inhibition of colonisation by pathogenic organisms, and shaping of both mucosal and systemic immune responses. Alteration of the gut microbiota, and subsequent changes in its metabolic network that perturb this homeostasis, may lead to intestinal and systemic disorders such as MS (4).

Neurotherapeutics. 2018; 15(1): 109–125

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What Probiotic Is Best For Multiple Sclerosis?

Probiotics used in clinical studies (1) that have shown benefit include:

  • VSL#3
  • Lactobacilli plantarum
  • Bifidobacteria animalis
  • E. coli Nissle
  • L. casei
  • L. casei, L. acidophilus, L. reuteni, B. bifidum, Streptococcus thermophiles
  • L. paracasei, DSM 13434;
  • B. bifidum
  • B. infantis

Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are of the most common probiotics, which possess substantial health-promoting properties such as modulating the population and composition of gut microbiome and improving intestinal barrier function. Furthermore, these microorganisms facilitate the production of metabolic parameters such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and reduce gut permeability, which ultimately leads to improved immune responses and decreased inflammation. Effects of probiotics on MS are more commonly assessed in animal studies.

Recently, a pilot study demonstrated that probiotics (VSL3) administration was associated with host immune system. Alteration of gut microbial composition by VSL3 supplementation had beneficial effects on the immune and inflammatory responses in patients with MS.

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The two selected human studies were of significant assessment on the effect of probiotics in MS patients. One group of researchers  investigated the clinical and metabolic response to probiotic supplementation in patients with MS and exhibited that probiotics could alter levels of inflammation (hs-CRP) in the probiotic group compared to the placebo group. They demonstrated that B cells’ function was drastically decreased after 12 weeks of receiving a probiotic capsule (L. acidophilus, L. casei, B. bifidum and L. fermentum).

In another study, Salami et al. assessed inflammatory biomarkers before and after 16 weeks of supplementation with a probiotic capsule comprising B. infantis, B. lactis, L. reuteri, L. casei, L. plantarum, and L. fermentum (2 × 109 CFU/day). Furthermore, they fed the control group with capsules containing maltodextrine, and the final size of each group was 24 persons per group. They were able to prove a crucial increase of serum IL-10 level. Contrary to this, the probiotic supplement remarkably decreased IL-6 and hs-CRP levels. However, no meaningful alteration in TNF-α was found after adjustment for age and BMI.

Contrary to the animal studies, the number of human studies were limited; however, according to the evidence of these two studies, it could be concluded that supplementation with probiotics may have beneficial effects on the immune function and especially inflammatory parameters. Nevertheless, more RCTs articles were needed to reach a rather satisfactory conclusion.

How Long Does It Take To See Improvement On Probiotics?

Another critical point is the duration of the interventions in human and animal reports, which is reported from 3 to 16 weeks, independent of the dosage and type of species. This systematic review indicates that the 8–12-week results were more favorable. Stronger results were reported within this period. In some cases, improvement of physiological responses was observed in 2 or 3 weeks, and favorable results were reported in relation to immunity and inflammation

Summary of ‘The Gut Microbiome In Multiple Sclerosis: What Bacteria Are Involved?’

a systematic review published in 2020 indicated that the probiotics could improve immune and inflammatory parameters, the cytokines and cells in MS disease. Probiotics may have efficient effects in management and treatment of MS. More studies are required to clarify the effect of supplementation with probiotics and their mechanisms in MS disease (1).

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References of ‘The Gut Microbiome In Multiple Sclerosis:What Bacteria Are Involved?’:

  1. Immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects of probiotics in multiple sclerosis: a systematic review: click here.
  2. A probiotic modulates the microbiome and immunity in multiple sclerosis: click here.
  3. Focus on the gut-brain axis: Multiple sclerosis, the intestinal barrier and the microbiome: click here.
  4. The “Gut Feeling”: Breaking Down the Role of Gut Microbiome in Multiple Sclerosis: click here.
  5. Short-chain fatty acids and gut microbiota in multiple sclerosis: click here.
  6. Gut Microbiota in Multiple Sclerosis and Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis: Current Applications and Future Perspectives: click here.
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