Research Papers: Immunology:

Administration of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus strains modulates experimental myasthenia gravis and experimental encephalomyelitis in Lewis rats

Alessandra Consonni, Chiara Cordiglieri, Elena Rinaldi, Roberta Marolda, Ilaria Ravanelli, Elena Guidesi, Marina Elli, Renato Mantegazza and Fulvio Baggi _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:22269-22287. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25170

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Alessandra Consonni1,*, Chiara Cordiglieri1,*, Elena Rinaldi1, Roberta Marolda1, Ilaria Ravanelli1, Elena Guidesi2, Marina Elli2, Renato Mantegazza1 and Fulvio Baggi1

1Neuroimmunology and Neuromuscular Diseases Unit, Neurological Institute ‘Carlo Besta’, Milan, Italy

2AAT-Advanced Analytical Technologies, Fiorenzuola d’Arda, Piacenza, Italy

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Fulvio Baggi, email: [email protected]

Keywords: probiotics; experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis; experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Immunology

Received: July 05, 2017     Accepted: April 03, 2018     Published: April 27, 2018


Probiotics beneficial effects on the host are associated with regulation of the intestinal microbial homeostasis and with modulation of inflammatory immune responses in the gut and in periphery. In this study, we investigated the clinical efficacy of two lactobacillus and two bifidobacterium probiotic strains in experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis (EAMG) and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) models, induced in Lewis rats. Treatment with probiotics led to less severe disease manifestation in both models; ex vivo analyses showed preservation of neuromuscular junction in EAMG and myelin content in EAE spinal cord. Immunoregulatory transcripts were found differentially expressed in gut associated lymphoid tissue and in peripheral immunocompetent organs. Feeding EAMG animals with probiotics resulted in increased levels of Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGFβ) in serum, and increased percentages of regulatory T cells (Treg) in peripheral blood leukocyte. Exposure of immature dendritic cells to probiotics induced their maturation toward an immunomodulatory phenotype, and secretion of TGFβ. Our data showed that bifidobacteria and lactobacilli treatment effectively modulates disease symptoms in EAMG and EAE models, and support further investigations to evaluate their use in autoimmune diseases.

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