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April 2, 2014

From JAMA’s Daily News Site

JAMA. 2014;311(13):1281. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.2920

A toxin produced by a ubiquitous bacteria and common source of food poisoning can damage the same cells that are attacked in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Clostridium perfringens type B is commonly found in soil and human and animal intestines, but certain subtypes (B and D) produce a chemical that may become toxic when ingested. The toxin kills oligodendrocytes and binds to many of the sites where inflammation is seen in patients with MS. This suggests a mechanism by which the toxin might contribute to the disease. Patients with active MS are also more likely to have antibodies to the toxin compared with healthy individuals.

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