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Interview with Lloyd Kasper: The gut-brain CD39+ T cell regulatory axis: role of the microbiota and gut-associated lymphoid tissue in regulating inflammatory CNS demyelination

KASPER-HD

Professor Kasper explained that the microbiome in the human gut contained perhaps 1014 bacteria, i.e. 100x the number of cells in the body, and 2-20 million genes (cf. 25,000 genes in the host). The composition of the microbiome may be influenced, e.g. by diet, probiotics or antibiotics. There was mounting evidence, most of it experimental, that these bacteria both influenced and regulated important diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, obesity and atherosclerosis.

For 10 years Kasper and his colleagues had been working on how the microbiome might influence CNS demyelinating disease. There were 5-8 risk factors for multiple sclerosis, including smoking, ethanol and obesity. It was striking that all these risk factors affected the microbiome. Perhaps it would turn out that the gut microbiome was the greatest risk factor for the disease.

Dr. Kasper is Professor of Medicine at the Dartmouth School of Medicine, New Hampshire, USA.

This lecture was given at ECTRIMS 2015, October 2015, Barcelona, Spain.