Researchers from Queen’s University have identified a specific human gut microbe that releases protein molecules that resemble a human-derived protein, which could stimulate the human immune system accidentally by attacking over its own body cells.
The gut microbe responsible for such protein formation is Bacteroides fragilis. The research team has discovered that this resembled protein produced by bacterium could cause autoimmune diseases. The similar protein in human is known as ubiquitin which is essential for the standard cell metabolism in the body
Currently, known autoimmune diseases are of eight different types such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus; which are incapacitating and currently non-curable.
Prof. Sheila Patrick of Queen’s University described the research by stating that they have discovered a lot of human-mimicked proteins are produced specifically by gut bacteria, Bacteroides fragilis, including protein, ubiquitin, which is not produced by any other bacterial species. So, they instantly speculated if the protein might be associated with the cause of autoimmune diseases. According to some previous studies, it has been identified that few people suffering from autoimmune syndrome have antibodies developed against human protein ubiquitin. So, the research team decided to check the presence of antibodies that might be formed against mimicked ubiquitin in the patients.
The study has been recently published in the British Society for Immunology Journal. Different scientists have contributed in this research including Dr. Linda Stewart, who is working as a lecturer in Queen’s University; Dr. Garry Blakely, senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh; and Dr. David Edgar.
Dr. Linda Stewart said that it has been discovered through the research that few people suffering from the autoimmune diseases have a high level of antibodies against the bacterial ubiquitin. The team still has to find out if the immune response is activated by mimic ubiquitin, which would help in early diagnosis of some autoimmune diseases, and could take some prevention.