A recent publication by EHSRC member Dr. Ashutosh Mangalam’s group was featured as an E-Factor Paper of the Month NIEHS Environmental Factor Newsletter as a Paper of the Month! The E-Factor Papers of the Month highlight the highest impact and most innovative research funded by NIEHS. Congratulations to the authors!
Citation: Jensen SN, Cady NM, Shahi SK, Peterson SR, Gupta A, Gibson-Corley KN, Mangalam AK. 2021. Isoflavone diet ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis through modulation of gut bacteria depleted in patients with multiple sclerosis. Sci Adv 7(28):eabd4595.
As written in Environmental Factor Newsletter:
Combination of a plant-based diet and specific gut microbes may protect against multiple sclerosis
A new NIEHS-funded study in mice showed that a diet rich in the plant-based compound isoflavone may protect against multiple sclerosis (MS). The isoflavone diet was only protective when the mice had gut microbes capable of breaking down isoflavones. MS is a disease in which the immune system attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in muscle weakness and loss of balance or coordination.
The researchers fed mice with MS characteristics an isoflavone-rich or isoflavone-free diet for six weeks. They measured levels of inflammatory cells in the brain and spinal cord, a hallmark of MS, and characterized the makeup of the gut microbiome.
Mice fed an isoflavone-free diet had more severe disease, with greater numbers of inflammatory cells in the brain and spinal cord, than mice fed isoflavone-rich diets. Isoflavone-free mice lacked isoflavone-metabolizing gut bacteria, which were abundant in mice fed the plant-based compounds. When the researchers fed mice isoflavones but removed isoflavone-metabolizing bacteria, the diet no longer protected against MS-like symptoms. When the bacteria were restored, the protective effect of the isoflavone diet returned. Furthermore, the researchers showed that isoflavone-free mice given equol, a metabolite produced when gut bacteria breakdown isoflavone, were also protected against MS.
Results suggest that the development and severity of MS is influenced by both diet and the makeup of the gut microbiome. According to the authors, results can inform therapies for patients with MS.