Could microbes in our guts be sending out the wrong message? Queen's University Belfast researchers have, for the first time, found a specific microbe in the gut that pumps out protein molecules that mimic a human protein, causing the human defence system to turn on its own cells by mistake.
The culprit in this case is called Bacteroides fragilis, a bacterium that normally lives in the human gut. The Queen's team has shown that this bacterium produces a human-like protein that could trigger autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. This human protein is called 'ubiquitin' and is needed for all the normal cell processes in our bodies
The study, recently published in the British Society for Immunology journal Clinical and Experimental Immunology is a significant discovery. "Mimic proteins" fool our immune defence system into reacting with our own bodies, resulting in autoimmune disease, a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks the body.
The recently published study is a collaboration with Dr. Linda Stewart, Lecturer at the School of Biological Science and Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast, Dr. David Edgar Consultant Immunologist and Head of the Northern Ireland Regional Immunology Service and Dr. Garry Blakely Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.
For the full article please click here.