Exploring the impact of the Mediterranean diet on the gut microbiome of individuals with multiple sclerosis
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Institute of Applied Biosciences, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, Thessaloniki, Greece
Multiple Sclerosis Center, 2nd Neurological Clinic, American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) University General Hospital, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
Department of Food Science and Nutrition, School of the Environment, University of the Aegean, Myrina, Greece
Publication date: 2022-05-27
Corresponding author
Konstantinos Rouskas
Institute of Applied Biosciences, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, 6th km Charilaou, GR-57001, Thermi, Thessaloniki, Greece
Public Health Toxicol 2022;2(Supplement Supplement 1):A102
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory immune-mediated disease of the Central Nervous System. Recent studies have linked alterations in the overall profile of the gut microbiome with MS, as well as with the activity of the disease. Here, we aim to evaluate the potential effect of Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet) on the gut microbiome in a cohort of patients with a first demyelinating episode in the context of Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) and/or Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS).

Material and Methods:
This ongoing study includes 31 patients with a first demyelinating episode and 27 age, sex and BMI matched Greek individuals. Fecal samples were profiled using 16S rRNA sequencing (V3/V4 regions). Microbial sequences were clustered into operational taxonomic units and aligned to SILVA132 database. Dietary intake was assessed using a validated semi-quantitative FFQ. Adherence to MedDiet was assessed using a nine-item composite index, the Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), and subjects were classified into two dietary groups according to the median MDS. Data analyses were conducted using in-house R scripts.

MDS did not statistically differ between healthy and patients, however, patients consume less servings/day of vegetables and red meat compared to the healthy individuals. Alpha diversity of the gut microbiome was similar across dietary groups in both healthy and patients with a first demyelinating episode. Principal coordinate analysis based on Bray-Curtis dissimilarity revealed that MDS and disease status are significantly covaried with the gut microbiome diversity, although they explained a modest proportion of variance. Among patients, differential abundance testing across dietary groups revealed association of greater adherence to MedDiet with abundance of specific previously reported beneficial microbial genera, including Prevotella and Faecalibacterium.

Our preliminary data provide evidence of a potential role of MedDiet in modulating gut microbiota composition in people with a first demyelinating episode, thus elucidating possible promising intervention approaches.

The research project was supported by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I.) under the “2nd Call for H.F.R.I. Research Projects to support Post-Doctoral Researchers” (Project Number: 00860).
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