Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a rare type of inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine, lower back, and sacroiliac joints. The condition can cause new bone growth, pain, and swelling.
Recent research has identified a connection between ankylosing spondylitis and the bacteria in the gut. Studies suggest that certain bacteria can trigger AS. Texas Orthopedics board certified rheumatologist Dr. Joseph Martinez gives his perspective on the growing research between ankylosing spondylitis and the gut on Medical News Today.
The AS and gut connection
The cause of AS is still unknown, but researchers have identified certain genes that can increase a person’s risk of developing the condition.
The HLA-B27 gene is at the center of the AS and gut connection. A person with HLA-B27 is 100 times more likely to develop AS and scientists believe it may interact with the gut microbiome as well. Having the marker does not mean a person will develop AS and people without the marker can still get the condition. This is why researchers believe there are other genes and non-genetic triggers involved, such as bacteria.
“The microbiome — that is, the usual microorganisms that live in our digestive tract — may play a role in the development of AS. There are mouse studies and ongoing human studies that seem to show a link between the microbiome and the development and progression of inflammatory arthritis, to include AS,” said Dr. Martinez.
Scientists are using the growing research of the link between the gut and AS to develop new treatments options to help manage AS symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Dr. Martinez pointed out: “Potential treatment avenues exploring the gut-joint axis are an active area of research at this time. Rifaximin has undergone preliminary research in animal models, which shows promising effects on the progression of AS, but this still requires further studies [to examine whether] this will have any benefits in humans.”
The current treatment options for AS including a combination of medications, exercise and physical therapy. Some evidence suggests probiotics may help fight off bacteria that can cause the disease.
However, Dr. Martinez cautions that “the potential benefits of supplements and diet in ankylosing spondylitis are unclear; more studies are needed on this matter.”
Read the entire article on Medical News Today here.
Texas Orthopedics Rheumatology
Texas Orthopedics rheumatologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, and osteoporosis. We offer two on-site infusion centers to assist in the treatment of various rheumatologic diseases.
For more information on rheumatology services or to schedule an appointment, call (512) 439-1000.