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Gut Bacteria Microbes Rheumatoid Arthritis

Gut Bacteria: A Potential Game Changer for Rheumatoid Arthritis

You share your body with trillions of microbes – many of them beneficial bacteria living in your intestinal tract. Collectively called the microbiome, these bugs influence health and disease through complex interactions with your immune system. Often, their role is protective, guarding against pathogens and inflammation. But increasingly strong evidence suggests that disruptions in the microbial ecosystem may cause or contribute to many chronic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Jose Scher, MD, a rheumatologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, studies the connection between intestinal bugs and arthritis. He thinks the overgrowth of normally benign bacteria called Prevotella – which are far more abundant in people with untreated RA – may trigger an inflammatory response that targets the joints. It’s also possible Prevotella crowds out beneficial bacteria that keep inflammation in check. Either way, Scher is confident there’s a connection between the microbiome and arthritis.
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