Home Arthritis Growing evidence that Rheumatoid Arthritis starts in your gut

Growing evidence that Rheumatoid Arthritis starts in your gut

Rheumatoid Arthritis, RA, gut bacteria, autoimmune disease

Several studies have now shown that Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is linked to an autoimmune response building over a decade or more, and a loss of diversity in the gut microbiome.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of RA do not appear at the outset, leaving a debate about which came first – the auto-immune damage, or the gut microbiome changes. New research suggests that the gut damage comes first, and it precipitates the autoimmune disease.

For example, research shows several bacteria are found in larger numbers in RA(1): For example, Actinobacteria and three species in particular: Collinsella, Eggerthella and Faecalibacterium. Indeed, Collinsella is linked with greater disease severity through heightened levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and an altered gut permeability.

In a second study(2) which examined the stool samples of newly diagnosed patients and compared them to healthy subjects, Prevotella copri was strongly linked with the disease. And increased levels of this bacterium went hand in hand with the loss of beneficial bacteria called Bacteroides and a loss of diversity in beneficial bacteria.

In fact, it is not just your gut microbiome that goes out of balance, but the oral microbiome too(3).

What appears to be happening(4) is that in response to chemicals made by the bacteria, T follicular helper cells are stimulated in numbers and these in turn help B cells in the greater production of antibodies. Thus the auto-immune response.

Given the links, for example, between Rheumatoid Arthritis and a higher risk of cancer, patients would be well advised to look at how diet and re-establishing a healthy Microbiome might help, rather than simply take drugs which may exacerbate the situation.

RA patients might start here:

Go to: Heal your Gut

Go to: The colourful Mediterranean Diet


1 Chen et al; Genome Med 2016: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4840970/
2 Scher et al; eLife, 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3816614/
3 https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.3914
4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904693/