, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 109–125 | Cite as

The “Gut Feeling”: Breaking Down the Role of Gut Microbiome in Multiple Sclerosis

  • Samantha N. Freedman
  • Shailesh K. Shahi
  • Ashutosh K. Mangalam


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neuroinflammatory disease of the central nervous system with unknown etiology. Recently, the gut microbiota has emerged as a potential factor in the development of MS, with a number of studies having shown that patients with MS exhibit gut dysbiosis. The gut microbiota helps the host remain healthy by regulating various functions, including food metabolism, energy homeostasis, maintenance of the intestinal barrier, inhibition of colonization 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. Here we discuss the findings of recent MS microbiome studies and potential mechanisms through which gut microbiota can predispose to, or protect against, MS. These findings highlight the need of an improved understanding of the interactions between the microbiota and host for developing therapies based on gut commensals with which to treat MS.

Key Words

Multiple sclerosis (MS) gut microbiome immune response experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) host–microbe interaction microbial metabolism 



This work was supported by funding from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (RG 5138A1/1T), the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa (pathology pilot grant), a Carver Trust Medical Research Initiative Grant, and the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. S.N.F. was supported on institutional training grant (T32AI007485 to Gail Bishop).

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Copyright information

© The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in ImmunologyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyCarver College of Medicine, University of IowaIowa CityUSA

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