Gut Microbes Linked to Blinding Autoimmune Disease

Diagram showing how Microbes can cause vison loss

By Hillary Kleck

Having a healthy gut has long been said to lead to a healthy body in general. New research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) now shows there could be a link between gut microbes and autoimmune uveitis, a disease causing inflammation to the uvea- the middle layer of the eye that consists of the iris, ciliary body and choroid. Autoimmune uveitis is a major cause of blindness in the western world, causing nearly 15% of cases.

Specifically, scientists found that the gut microbes can produce a molecule mimicking a retinal protein. This molecule could then trigger the activation of T cells causing the blindness in the eye. Before, it was unknown how the T cells could be activated from something outside of the eye.

The study is not over either. The research team will go on to work to find out the individual bacterias possibly involved in the blinding disease, as well as other autoimmune diseases. The disease is most commonly diagnosed in patients 20-60 years old, but when it occurs in pediatric patients, it may cause a significant disease burden. The study could eventually lead to valuable information to help reduce cases of the disease in the western world.

Learn more about the study in the full article, New Research Is a Case of the Gut Leading the Blind on the GEN website.


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