A recent study indicates that stress could modify our intestinal flora negatively and thus increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases.
Stress, changes in flora and autoimmune diseases
Research recently published in the Journal of the American Society for Microbiology evaluated the mechanism by which stressful situations increase the risk of autoimmune diseases.
Thus, in mice exposed to social stress (encounters with aggressive mice) for 10 days and controls, the composition of the intestinal microbiota was evaluated. After the intervention, the stressed mice had changes in the intestinal flora, especially in two types of bacteria related to immune disorders.
According to a genetic analysis of rodents, gut bacteria could become pathogenic and thus, harmful to the host itself.
A percentage of intestinal bacteria in stressed mice became pathogenic and infected their tissues, which led the immune system to attack the body.
This was confirmed by tests on the lymph nodes of stressed rodents that indicate an increase in pathogenic bacteria and reactive effector T cells that are characteristic of autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, among others.
While this study allows us to recognize once the close link between our emotions and brain with our intestines as well as the great power of the intestinal flora on our health, we must not forget that it was carried out in rodents and that it might not be applicable to humans. Therefore, research is expected to confirm or bring us closer to the same link between stress, changes in the intestinal flora and autoimmune diseases.
Likewise, it is always advisable to try to control stress in our lives as well as take care of the intestinal flora to protect health.