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Food poisoning bacterium may cause Multiple Sclerosis

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Animal study indicates that a type of food poisoning bacterium known as Clostridium perfringens can develop Multiple Sclerosis damage in the brain.

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College in the United States, through lab tests in mice, found that a toxin made by a rare strain of C. perfringens is responsible for MS-like damage.

While the exact cause of Multiple sclerosis (MS) has not been identified yet, mixture of genetic and environmental factors seems to play significant role in this neurological disease.

MS is an inflammatory disease which sees the body’s immune system attack how nerves transmit signals to the rest of the body.

C. perfringens, which is found in soil and contaminated undercooked meat, comes in different strains and a particular strain of the bacterium, Type B produces a toxin that can move through blood and enter the brain, according to the study report published in PLoS ONE.

The researchers observed that the toxin, called epsilon, crossed the blood-brain barrier and damaged myelin-producing cells, which is typical occurrence in MS patients.

“The findings are important because if it can be confirmed that epsilon toxin is a trigger of MS, a vaccine or antibody against the toxin might be able to halt or prevent this debilitating disease,” said the lead investigator Jennifer Linden.

“Though the findings now need to be validated in larger studies, discovering potential causes or triggers for MS could enable us to develop better treatments or even, one day, prevent the condition,” Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society Dr Susan Kohlhaas stated.


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