Scientists from the University of Colorado and other institutions have found that a special bacteria found in the gut could trigger rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in individuals already at risk for the disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can cause painful swelling and stiffness in the joints.
To conduct their research, the scientists used the antibodies created by immune cells from the blood of people who were already at risk for RA.
They then mixed these antibodies with the feces of the same individuals to find the bacteria that were tagged by the antibodies.
After discovering the bacteria, the team used animal models to host the newly discovered bacteria to further test their hypothesis.
The team found that not only did the bacteria cause the animal models to develop the blood markers found in individuals at risk for RA, but some of the models even showed the development of full-blown RA.
The researchers found that the T cells in the blood of people with RA will respond to these bacteria, but people who are otherwise healthy do not respond to these bacteria.
They trigger an RA-like disease in the animal models, and in humans, the team can show that this bacterium seems to be triggering immune responses specific to RA.
If the unique species of bacteria is driving the immune response that leads to RA in individuals already at risk for the disease, it might be possible to target the bacteria with medication to prevent that response from happening.
However, further research is needed to understand how the bacteria triggers the immune response and how to prevent it from happening.
This study took five years to conduct and analyze, and it was helped along by individuals who discovered they were at risk for RA and volunteered to support the research effort.
The researchers hope that their findings could lead to better treatments for individuals with RA and prevent the disease from occurring in those at risk.
How to prevent RA
There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but there are several ways to prevent the development or worsening of the disease. Here are some tips to help prevent RA:
Exercise regularly: Exercise can help reduce inflammation, build strong muscles and bones, and improve overall health. Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, and yoga are good choices for people with RA.
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can put added pressure on joints and worsen RA symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of developing RA and lessen the impact of the disease on the body.
Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
Avoid smoking: Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of developing RA and can worsen symptoms in people who already have the disease. Quitting smoking can help reduce the risk of developing RA and lessen the impact of the disease on the body.
Get enough sleep: Getting enough restorative sleep can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Establish a regular sleep schedule and avoid caffeine and electronics before bedtime.
Manage stress: Stress can trigger RA flares and worsen symptoms. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress and improve overall health.
Take preventive medication: If you have a family history of RA or are at increased risk for the disease, talk to your doctor about taking preventive medication.
This may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), or biologic agents.
Remember, early detection and treatment can help prevent RA from progressing and causing irreversible damage to the body. If you experience joint pain or stiffness, see your doctor for an evaluation.
If you care about pain, please read studies about arthritis drugs that may help prevent Parkinson’s, and these vitamins could help reduce bone fracture risk.
For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that Krill oil could improve muscle health in older people, and eating yogurt linked to lower frailty in older people.
The study was conducted by Kristine Kuhn et al and published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
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