Study Links Gut Flora to Onset of Pediatric Rheumatism

July 12, 2023 11:12:54

The human body comprises many complex and interconnected systems that rely on and affect each other in myriad ways. One of the most complex systems is the gut biome, a collection of bacteria that live in the digestive tract and have a symbiotic relationship with humans.

The gut biome is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that aid digestion and affect immunity, brain and heart health. Researchers from the University of Florida and Linköping University have found that children who suffer from rheumatism exhibit differences in their gut biome compared to healthy children up to 10 years after infection.

The study is the first to link gut flora in early childhood with the development of pediatric rheumatism. It is the most prevalent joint inflammatory disease in children in the United States and currently has no cure.

Like all autoimmune conditions, pediatric rheumatism or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system mistakes healthy tissue as a danger and attacks, causing symptoms such as stiff, swollen and achy joints. Since pediatric rheumatism has no cure, children diagnosed with the condition usually have to take medication to suppress their immune systems for years, putting them at risk of developing other conditions.

Scientists across the world have spent years analyzing autoimmune conditions such as pediatric rheumatism to figure out their causes and develop effective cures and preventative measures. With the gut biome playing an important but often understated role in maintaining homeostasis or internal balance, researchers posited that it may play a role in the development of rheumatism in children.

Studies have found that the gut biome undergoes significant change during the first year of a baby’s life, with the composition of microorganisms in this ecosystem changing based on genetics, diet, infections and even bacterial antibiotics. The recent study looked at the composition of the gut biome alongside environmental and lifestyle factors several years before the development of pediatric rheumatism.

On average, some of the children who provided stool samples at around a year old were diagnosed with pediatric rheumatism three years later. Professor of Pediatrics at Linköping University and study colead Johnny Ludvigsson noted that individuals who later developed the autoimmune condition lacked some bacteria at one year of age. He added that courses of antibiotics could also potentially harm the gut biome and result in an imbalance while breastfeeding was associated with a decreased risk of developing pediatric rheumatism.

Proinflammatory bacteria such as Parabacteroides distasonsis also increased the risk of developing the condition while “good bacteria” such as Akkermansia were either limited or completely absent in children diagnosed with pediatric rheumatism.

As more companies such as BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) invest in developing immunotherapies for autoimmune illnesses, much more could be unearthed about how these conditions develop and manifest at a genetic or cellular level.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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