JUL 09, 2015 12:14 PM PDT

Do Biofilms Spur Autoimmunity?

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
Biofilms consist of surface-associated bacteria surrounded by an extracellular matrix (think dental plaque). Biofilms often form on urinary catheters and orthopedic implants, where the bacteria may infect bone or enter the blood stream. However, researchers at Temple University Health System have now implicated gut biofilms in the development of systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease. Cagla Tukel, PhD, and Stefania Galluci, MD, report their findings in the journal Immunity.

Bacteria secrete polysaccharides, DNA, and other substances to form a biofilm.
Lupus is a systemic inflammatory disease, and flare-ups can cause joint pain and swelling, skin lesions, fatigue, fever, and the characteristic "butterfly" facial rash. Tukel and Galluci knew that lupus flares also coincided with bacterial infections, particularly Salmonella, and questioned whether gut-resident biofilms play a role. The group showed that Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium, common gut bacteria, form biofilms containing extracellular DNA and amyloid fibers (curli).

When they exposed dendritic cells to E. coli or Salmonella DNA/curli complexes, they produced pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as type-1 interferon. Then, when lupus-prone mice were injected with the DNA/curli complexes, they produced auto-antibodies typical of lupus within two weeks. Such a response to other bacterial products, like lipopolysaccharide, generally takes up to five months.

Tukel and Galluci are now collaborating with Roberto Carrichio, MD, Director of the Temple Lupus Clinic, to probe for DNA/curli complexes in lupus patients. They also plan to develop a mouse model to understand just how the DNA/curli complexes move to the bloodstream from biofilms in the gut.

Sources: Science Daily, Mayo Clinic, Amyloid-DNA Composites of Bacterial Biofilms Stimulate Autoimmunity. Immunity, 2015; 42 (6): 1171

About the Author
  • Kerry received a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
You May Also Like
AUG 14, 2020
Microbiology
Seasonal Flu Vaccine Immunity Probably Wears Off
AUG 14, 2020
Seasonal Flu Vaccine Immunity Probably Wears Off
From year to year, the influenza virus mutates and swaps genes with other flu viruses, and we need a new vaccine. But th ...
AUG 25, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
The Potential of Antivitamins
AUG 25, 2020
The Potential of Antivitamins
What exactly are antivitamins? They are substances no less that have the power to target the biological function of a ge ...
SEP 09, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Swallow the Pill, Discover the Bugs Within
SEP 09, 2020
Swallow the Pill, Discover the Bugs Within
The 30-foot long human gastrointestinal tract consists of tissues and organs that work in concert to digest our food. Th ...
SEP 10, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Microscope to Diagnose River Blindness Is a Winner
SEP 10, 2020
Microscope to Diagnose River Blindness Is a Winner
  A team of innovators from Stanford University has invented the Onchoscope: a low-cost, customizable microscope fo ...
OCT 09, 2020
Microbiology
Two Early Relatives of Rubella Are Discovered
OCT 09, 2020
Two Early Relatives of Rubella Are Discovered
Rubella is a contagious, airborne viral infection that can lead to rash, fever, and sore throat. It's especially dangero ...
NOV 23, 2020
Microbiology
Drug Resistance in Tuberculosis Involves a Unique Mechanism
NOV 23, 2020
Drug Resistance in Tuberculosis Involves a Unique Mechanism
The pathogenic bacterium that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, does not multiply quickly, so researchers ...
Loading Comments...