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Could Your Gut Help Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The bacteria in your gut do more than break down your food. They can also predict susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. More than 300,000 Canadians have rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disease that causes painful swelling in the joints and scientists still have a limited understanding of the processes that triggers the disease.

A study published by a team of researchers from the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital have investigated a potential relationship between the mucous membrane of the gut and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis.

A study (by Pianta, et al) titled “Two rheumatoid arthritis–specific autoantigens correlate microbial immunity with autoimmune responses in joints” – began by taking samples of synovial fluid from joints and blood samples. With the samples, the research team was able to detect two auto-antigens (cells that have been linked to causing rheumatoid arthritis) that patients’ immune systems were targeting. The two auto-antigen’s DNA was then studied to find if they were related to any other cells in the human body.

The results showed that the auto-antigen’s DNA had similar sections (or sequences) to certain microbes in the human gut. Dr. Pianta and her team’s study indicates the establishment of a relationship between cells that cause rheumatoid arthritis and cells that live in our gut is a promising first step into a new route for preventing the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.

For more layman friendly information and treatment strategies for rheumatoid arthritis visit Arthritis Consumer Expert’s spotlight on rheumatoid arthritis along with all other major arthritis diseases.