A new study shows a link between gut bacterial imbalances and life threatening forms of lupus for the first time. Blood and stool samples were analyzed in 61 women with systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE) and compared to those of 17 healthy women of matched age and racial backgrounds. Results showed that women with the disease had on average 5 times more Ruminococcus gnavus in the gut. In addition, disease flares (and especially kidney flares) aligned with drastic increases in R gnavus as well as a prevalence of antibodies in the blood that are designed to attach to the bacteria. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases
→Takeaway: Scientists who conducted the study believe that in some instances, bacterial imbalance may be a key player in lupus and its flare-ups. They also hypothesize that bacteria leaking from the gut could trigger the immune response that elicits the disease, and that imbalances in the gut microbiome may play a more critical role than genetics in kidney flare-ups associated with SLE.