Gut microbiota and probiotics: novel immune system modulators in myasthenia gravis?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Gut microorganisms (microbiota) live in symbiosis with the host and influence human nutrition, metabolism, physiology, and immune development and function. The microbiota prevents pathogen infection to the host, and in turn the host provides a niche for survival. The alteration of gut bacteria composition (dysbiosis) could contribute to the development of immune-mediated diseases by influencing the immune system activation and driving the pro- and anti-inflammatory responses in order to promote or counteract immune reactions. Probiotics are nonpathogenic microorganisms able to interact with the gut microbiota and provide health benefits; their use has recently been exploited to dampen immunological response in several experimental models of autoimmune diseases. Here, we focus on the relationships among commensal bacteria, probiotics, and the gut, describing the main interactions occurring with the immune system and recent data supporting the clinical efficacy of probiotic administration in rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and myasthenia gravis (MG) animal models. The encouraging results suggest that selected strains of probiotics should be evaluated in clinical trials as adjuvant therapy to restore the disrupted tolerance in myasthenia gravis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • autoimmune diseases
  • experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis
  • immunomodulation
  • microbiota
  • probiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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