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Lopez and colleagues from Spain have studied the gut microbiome of lupus patients and reported that lupus microbiota promoted lymphocyte activation and Th17 differentiation from naïve CD4+ lymphocytes moreso than that seen with healthy control-microbiota.
The addition of Bifidobacterium bifidum, Ruminococcus obeum and Blautia coccoides strains to the lupus microbiota abrogated these effects.
They also found that the fecal microbiota of normal controls exhibited a negative correlation between IL-17+ populations and Firmicutes species, but in SLE this phylum correlated directly with serum levels of IFNγ. Synergistetes, positively correlated with the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio in healthy controls, but tended to be reduced in lupus patients when anti-dsDNA titers were increased and also negatively correlation with IL-6 serum levels and IgM anti-phosphorylcholine antibodies.
These preliminary findings suggest a potential role for microbiome manipulation as a means of disease control in lupus patients. More research is called for.