Perturbation of gut microbiota decreases susceptibility but does not modulate ongoing autoimmune neurological disease

J Neuroinflammation. 2020 Mar 6;17(1):79. doi: 10.1186/s12974-020-01766-9.


The gut microbiota regulates the host immune and nervous systems and plays an important role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune neurological disease multiple sclerosis (MS). There are considerable efforts currently being undertaken to develop therapies for MS based on the modulation of microbiota. Evidence from experimental models suggests that the manipulation of microbiota through diet or antibiotics prior to the disease development limits disease susceptibility. However, it is currently unclear if microbiota manipulation therapies would also have an impact on ongoing neurological disease. Here, we examined the effect of antibiotic-based microbiota modulation in spontaneous experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse models of MS before and after the onset of autoimmune disease. Prophylactic antibiotic treatment led to a significant reduction of susceptibility to spontaneous EAE. In contrast, antibiotic treatment after the onset of spontaneous EAE did not show a significant amelioration. These results reveal that the perturbation of gut bacteria alters disease susceptibility but has minimal impact on the ongoing neurological disease.

Keywords: Antibiotics; CNS autoimmunity; EAE; Microbiota; Multiple sclerosis; microbiome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental* / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / drug effects
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents