The gut microbiome in systemic lupus erythematosus: lessons from rheumatic fever
For more than a century, certain bacterial infections that can breach the skin and mucosal barriers have been implicated as common triggers of autoimmune syndromes, especially post-infection autoimmune diseases that include rheumatic fever and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. However, only in the past few years has the importance of imbalances within our own commensal microbiota communities, and within the gut, in the absence of infection, in promoting autoimmune pathogenesis become fully appreciated. A diversity of species and mechanisms have been implicated, including disruption of the gut barrier. Emerging data suggest that expansions (or blooms) of pathobiont species are involved in autoimmune pathogenesis and stimulate clonal expansion of T cells and B cells that recognize microbial antigens. This Review discusses the relationship between the gut microbiome and the immune system, and the potential consequence of disrupting the community balance in terms of autoimmune development, focusing on systemic lupus erythematosus. Notably, inter-relationships between expansions of certain members within gut microbiota communities and concurrent autoimmune responses bear features reminiscent of classical post-infection autoimmune disease. From such insights, new therapeutic opportunities are being considered to restore the balance within microbiota communities or re-establishing the gut-barrier integrity to reinforce immune homeostasis in the host.
Understanding the roles of the microbiome in autoimmune rheumatic diseases
The gut microbiome represents a potential promising therapeutic target for autoimmune diseases. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the links between the gut microbiome and several autoimmune rheumatic diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) spondyloarthropathies (SpA), Sjogren's syndrome (SS), and systemic sclerosis (SSc). Evidence from studies of RA and SLE patients suggests that alterations in the gut microbiome composition and function contribute to disease development and progression through increased gut permeability, with microbes and microbial metabolites driving an excessive systemic activation of the immune system. Also, there is growing evidence that gut dysbiosis and subsequent immune cell activation may contribute to disease pathogenesis in SpA and SS. For SSc, there are fewer, but these are still informative, reports on alterations in the gut microbiome. In general, the complex interplay between the microbiome and the immune system is still not fully understood. Here we discuss the current knowledge of the link between the gut microbiome and autoimmune rheumatic diseases, highlighting potentially fertile areas for future research and make considerations on the potential benefits of strategies that restore gut microbiome homeostasis.
Longitudinal gut microbiome analyses and blooms of pathogenic strains during lupus disease flares
OBJECTIVE:Whereas genetic susceptibility for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been well explored, the triggers for clinical disease flares remain elusive. To investigate relationships between microbiota community resilience and disease activity, we performed the first longitudinal analyses of lupus gut-microbiota communities. METHODS:In an observational study, taxononomic analyses, including multivariate analysis of ß-diversity, assessed time-dependent alterations in faecal communities from patients and healthy controls. From gut blooms, strains were isolated, with genomes and associated glycans analysed. RESULTS:(RG) occurred at times of high-disease activity, and were detected in almost half of patients during lupus nephritis (LN) disease flares. Whole genome sequence analysis of RG strains isolated during these flares documented 34 genes postulated to aid adaptation and expansion within a host with an inflammatory condition. Yet, the most specific feature of strains found during lupus flares was the common expression of a novel type of cell membrane-associated lipoglycan. These lipoglycans share conserved structural features documented by mass spectroscopy, and highly immunogenic repetitive antigenic-determinants, recognised by high-level serum IgG2 antibodies, that spontaneously arose, concurrent with RG blooms and lupus flares. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings rationalise how blooms of the RG pathobiont may be common drivers of clinical flares of often remitting-relapsing lupus disease, and highlight the potential pathogenic properties of specific strains isolated from active LN patients.
Pharmacologic inhibition of glycolysis prevents the development of lupus by altering the gut microbiome in mice
Gut dysbiosis has been associated with lupus pathogenesis, and fecal microbiota transfers (FMT) from lupus-prone mice shown to induce autoimmune activation into healthy mice. The immune cells of lupus patients exhibit an increased glucose metabolism and treatments with 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2DG), a glycolysis inhibitor, are therapeutic in lupus-prone mice. Here, we showed in two models of lupus with different etiologies that 2DG altered the composition of the fecal microbiome and associated metabolites. In both models, FMT from 2DG-treated mice protected lupus-prone mice of the same strain from the development of glomerulonephritis, reduced autoantibody production as well as the activation of CD4+ T cells and myeloid cells as compared to FMT from control mice. Thus, we demonstrated that the protective effect of glucose inhibition in lupus is transferable through the gut microbiota, directly linking alterations in immunometabolism to gut dysbiosis in the hosts.
Hybrid and vaccine-induced immunity against SAR-CoV-2 in MS patients on different disease-modifying therapies
OBJECTIVE:To compare "hybrid immunity" (prior COVID-19 infection plus vaccination) and post-vaccination immunity to SARS CoV-2 in MS patients on different disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) and to assess the impact of vaccine product and race/ethnicity on post-vaccination immune responses. METHODS:Consecutive MS patients from NYU MS Care Center (New York, NY), aged 18-60, who completed primary COVID-19 vaccination series â‰¥6â€‰weeks previously were evaluated for SARS CoV-2-specific antibody responses with electro-chemiluminescence and multiepitope bead-based immunoassays and, in a subset, live virus immunofluorescence-based microneutralization assay. SARS CoV-2-specific cellular responses were assessed with cellular stimulation TruCulture IFNÎ³ and IL-2 assay and, in a subset, with IFNÎ³ and IL-2 ELISpot assays. Multivariate analyses examined associations between immunologic responses and prior COVID-19 infection while controlling for age, sex, DMT at vaccination, time-to-vaccine, and vaccine product. RESULTS:Between 6/01/2021 and 11/11/2021, 370 MS patients were recruited (mean age 40.6â€‰years; 76% female; 53% non-White; 22% with prior infection; common DMT classes: ocrelizumab 40%; natalizumab 15%, sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor modulators 13%; and no DMT 8%). Vaccine-to-collection time was 18.7 (Â±7.7) weeks and 95% of patients received mRNA vaccines. In multivariate analyses, patients with laboratory-confirmed prior COVID-19 infection had significantly increased antibody and cellular post-vaccination responses compared to those without prior infection. Vaccine product and DMT class were independent predictors of antibody and cellular responses, while race/ethnicity was not. INTERPRETATION/CONCLUSIONS:Prior COVID-19 infection is associated with enhanced antibody and cellular post-vaccine responses independent of DMT class and vaccine type. There were no differences in immune responses across race/ethnic groups.
Cellular and Humoral Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Multiple Sclerosis Patients on Ocrelizumab and Other Disease-Modifying Therapies: A Multi-Ethnic Observational Study
OBJECTIVE:The objective of this study was to determine the impact of multiple sclerosis (MS) disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) on the development of cellular and humoral immunity to severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. METHODS:Patients with MS aged 18 to 60â€‰years were evaluated for anti-nucleocapsid and anti-Spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) antibody with electro-chemiluminescence immunoassay; antibody responses to Spike protein, RBD, N-terminal domain with multiepitope bead-based immunoassays (MBI); live virus immunofluorescence-based microneutralization assay; T-cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 Spike using TruCulture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); and IL-2 and IFNÎ³ ELISpot assays. Assay results were compared by DMT class. Spearman correlation and multivariate analyses were performed to examine associations between immunologic responses and infection severity. RESULTS:Between January 6, 2021, and July 21, 2021, 389 patients with MS were recruited (mean age 40.3â€‰years; 74% women; 62% non-White). Most common DMTs were ocrelizumab (OCR)-40%; natalizumab -17%, Sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor (S1P) modulators -12%; and 15% untreated. One hundred seventy-seven patients (46%) had laboratory evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection; 130 had symptomatic infection, and 47 were asymptomatic. Antibody responses were markedly attenuated in OCR compared with other groups (pâ€‰â‰¤0.0001). T-cell responses (IFNÎ³) were decreased in S1P (pÂ =Â 0.03), increased in natalizumab (pâ€‰<0.001), and similar in other DMTs, including OCR. Cellular and humoral responses were moderately correlated in both OCR (rÂ =Â 0.45, pÂ =Â 0.0002) and non-OCR (rÂ =Â 0.64, pâ€‰<0.0001). Immune responses did not differ by race/ethnicity. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) clinical course was mostly non-severe and similar across DMTs; 7% (9/130) were hospitalized. INTERPRETATION/CONCLUSIONS:DMTs had differential effects on humoral and cellular immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Immune responses did not correlate with COVID-19 clinical severity in this relatively young and nondisabled group of patients with MS. ANN NEUROL 2022.
Faster B-cell repletion after anti-CD20 infusion in Black patients compared to white patients with neurologic diseases [Letter]
This retrospective, single-center study aimed to characterize and compare the kinetics of B-cell reemergence following anti-CD20 infusion (anti-CD20i) in African American (AA) and white patients with MS or NMOSD. In a logistic regression model that included race, time since anti-CD20i, body mass index, and diagnosis, only AA race (p=0.01) and time since anti-CD20i (p=0.0003) were significant predictors of B-cell repletion. However, B-cell subset composition was similar between AA and white patients with detectable CD19+ B-cell counts. These findings highlight the importance of including a diverse study population in future studies of anti-CD20 therapies.
Sex-dependent Lupus Blautia (Ruminococcus) gnavus strain induction of zonulin-mediated intestinal permeability and autoimmunity
Imbalances in the gut microbiome are suspected contributors to the pathogenesis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and our studies and others have documented that patients with active Lupus nephritis have expansions of the obligate anaerobe, Blautia (Ruminococcus) gnavus (RG). To investigate whether the RG strains in Lupus patients have in vivo pathogenic properties in a gnotobiotic system, we colonized C57BL/6 mice with individual RG strains from healthy adults or those from Lupus patients. These strains were similar in their capacity for murine intestinal colonization of antibiotic-preconditioned specific-pathogen-free, as well as of germ-free adults and of their neonatally colonized litters. Lupus-derived RG strains induced high levels of intestinal permeability that was significantly greater in female than male mice, whereas the RG species-type strain (ATCC29149/VPI C7-1) from a healthy donor had little or no effects. These Lupus RG strain-induced functional alterations were associated with RG translocation to mesenteric lymph nodes, and raised serum levels of zonulin, a regulator of tight junction formation between cells that form the gut barrier. Notably, the level of Lupus RG-induced intestinal permeability was significantly correlated with serum IgG anti RG cell-wall lipoglycan antibodies, and with anti-native DNA autoantibodies that are a biomarker for SLE. Strikingly, gut permeability was completely reversed by oral treatment with larazotide acetate, an octapeptide that is a specific molecular antagonist of zonulin. Taken together, these studies document a pathway by which RG strains from Lupus patients contribute to a leaky gut and features of autoimmunity implicated in the pathogenesis of flares of clinical Lupus disease.
Lupus gut microbiota transplants cause autoimmunity and inflammation
BACKGROUND:The etiology of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is multifactorial. Recently, growing evidence suggests that the microbiota plays a role in SLE, yet whether gut microbiota participates in the development of SLE remains largely unknown. To investigate this issue, we carried out 16Â s rDNA sequencing analyses in a cohort of 18 female un-treated active SLE patients and 7 female healthy controls, and performed fecal microbiota transplantation from patients and healthy controls to germ-free (GF) mice. RESULTS:Compared to the healthy controls, we found no significant different microbial diversity but some significantly different species in SLE patients including Turicibacter genus and other 5 species. Fecal transfer from SLE patients to GF mice caused GF mice to develop a series of lupus-like phenotypic features, including increased serum autoimmune antibodies, imbalanced cytokines, altered distribution of immune cells in mucosal and peripheral immune response, and upregulated expression of genes related to SLE in recipient mice that received SLE fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). Moreover, the metabolism of histidine was significantly altered in GF mice treated with SLE patient feces, as compared to those which received healthy fecal transplants. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, our results describe a causal role of aberrant gut microbiota in contributing to the pathogenesis of SLE. The interplay of gut microbial and histidine metabolism may be one of the mechanisms intertwined with autoimmune activation in SLE.
Response to: 'The level of peripheral regulatory T cells is linked to changes in gut commensal microflora in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus' by Zhang et al and the phylogeny of a candidate pathobiont in lupus nephritis