Gut Bacteria Can Be a Potential Game-Changer for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Close-up shot of small young woman’s hand suffering from arthritis - Female arm with inflamed and painful joints - Chronic disease that causes deformation to the bonesA new approach to treating rheumatoid arthritis may include repairing gut bacteria. UCL researchers have found that damage to the lining of the gut plays an important role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes joint pain and inflammation. It’s caused when the immune system does not work correctly and attacks the lining of the joints.


Despite years of research and studies on the disease, scientists still do not fully understand the process that is involved in the development of arthritis. Some genetic and environmental factors have been discovered, but more research is needed to find how it accelerates.

For this study, researchers began exploring how the bacteria in the gut might be involved in the development of arthritis. They believe that ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut may place a role in initiating the disease.

Co-lead author Professor Claudia Mauri said: “We wanted to know what was happening in the gut and whether changes to the intestinal lining—which usually acts as a barrier to protect the body from bacteria—are a feature of the disease and contribute to its development.”

Blood Markers

In a pre-clinical mouse model using patient samples, researchers found that blood markers of gut damage were raised in people with arthritis compared to healthy people. These markers were found even in the earliest stages of arthritis and seemed to get higher the more the disease progressed. Signs of inflammation were also discovered in those with arthritis, which is a distinct indication also of inflammatory bowel disease.

Leaky gut was also noted in their findings. This term refers to the lining of the gut that becomes ‘leaky’ potentially allowing bacteria to cross the gut lining into the body, creating inflammation in the gut and joints.


“Our findings suggest that the intestinal lining is a therapeutic target. Importantly, we found that using existing drugs that restore the gut-barrier integrity i.e., prevent the gut from becoming leaky or inhibit inflammatory cells from moving to and from to the gut, could reduce the severity of arthritis in pre-clinical models,” says Professor Mauri.

Current treatments for rheumatoid arthritis do not address the gut, which may leave the patient susceptible to more inflammation. Researchers believe that this study shows the importance of evaluating the therapeutic impact of treating the intestinal lining of rheumatoid arthritis patients in addition to their joints.

This new strategy of treatment may be valuable in those dealing with the chronic symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.