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Gut microbiome changes in anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor encephalitis patients

BMC Neurol. 2022 Jul 25;22(1):276. doi: 10.1186/s12883-022-02804-0.


BACKGROUND: Anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) encephalitis is a type of autoimmune encephalitis. The underlying mechanism(s) remain largely unknown. Recent evidence has indicated that the gut microbiome may be involved in neurological immune diseases via the “gut-brain axis”. This study aimed to explore the possible relationship between anti-NMDAR encephalitis and the gut microbiome.

METHODS: Fecal specimens were collected from 10 patients with anti-NMDAR encephalitis and 10 healthy volunteers. The microbiome analysis was based on Illumina sequencing of the V3-V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene. The alpha, beta, and taxonomic diversity analyses were mainly based on the QIIME2 pipeline.

RESULTS: There were no statistical differences in epidemiology, medication, and clinical characteristics (except for those related to anti-NMDAR encephalitis) between the two groups. ASV analysis showed that Prevotella was significantly increased, while Bacteroides was reduced in the gut microbiota of the patients, compared with the controls. Alpha diversity results showed a decrease in diversity in the patients compared with the healthy controls, analyzed by the Shannon diversity, Simpson diversity, and Pielou_E uniformity based on the Kruskal-Wallis test (P = 0.0342, 0.0040, and 0.0002, respectively). Beta diversity analysis showed that the abundance and composition of the gut microbiota was significantly different between the two groups, analyzed by weighted and unweighted UniFrac distance (P = 0.005 and 0.001, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: The abundance and evenness of bacterial distribution were significantly lower and jeopardized in patients with anti-NMDAR encephalitis than in healthy controls. Thus, our findings suggest that gut microbiome composition changes might be associated with the anti-NMDAR encephalitis. It could be a causal agent, or a consequence.

PMID:35879681 | DOI:10.1186/s12883-022-02804-0

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