Evidence that the gut microbiota helps prevent brain infection

The gut is our first line of defence

This study investigated brain antigen presence in mice before substantiating the findings in human brain tissue. Results showed that, the IgA-producing cells in the meninges were absent, when mice had no bacteria in their gut. Human samples taken from brain surgery showed parallel findings of IgA present in the meninges. They concluded that ‘these cells actually originate in the intestine where they are selected to recognise gut microbes before taking up residence in the meninges.’ Without IgA present to trap microbes, they were able to spread from the bloodstream into the brain. This study highlights the importance of this defence system in the pathology of infections of the CNS such as meningitis and encephalitis.

Fitzpatrick, Z et al. Gut-educated IgA plasma cells defend the meningeal venous sinuses. Nature, 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2886-4

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