JUL 09, 2015 12:14 PM PDT

Do Biofilms Spur Autoimmunity?

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
5 33 3963
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
MAY 22, 2018
Technology
MAY 22, 2018
Tiniest House Ever Can Be Built on Strand of Hair
A French robotics team has built a micro-house to demonstrate their new nanotechnology prowess and a system called the μRobotex nanofactory.
JUN 04, 2018
Microbiology
JUN 04, 2018
Neutralizing Infections with Nanotechnology
Clearing bacterial infections from the body can present challenges. Engineers are trying to use nanorobots for such situations.
JUN 09, 2018
Videos
JUN 09, 2018
Infectious Microbes Lurk in Hotel Pools
With thousands sickened, the CDC is concerned about hotel pools, even treated ones.
JUN 13, 2018
Immunology
JUN 13, 2018
Vitamin A Gives Immune System Power to Fight Tuberculosis
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria are a serious health concern for the global population, but a new finding offers a new therapeutic solution that
JUL 01, 2018
Microbiology
JUL 01, 2018
Using Bacteria to Help Power Space Missions
There are microbes that have found a way to use electricity for power, and scientists want to see how they can help us.
AUG 03, 2018
Microbiology
AUG 03, 2018
Dog Lick Leads to Limb Amputation
The CDC says don't give your dog up; this is thought to be a very rare case.
Loading Comments...