Investigating the gut flora in first-degree relatives of multiple sclerosis patients provides unique opportunities to understand the interaction between genetic and environmental factors in MS and other chronic, inflammatory diseases
While first degree relatives (FDRs) of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) in Belgium are 10-12 times more likely to be diagnosed with MS, their risk is currently not predictable. Mounting evidence suggests that the human gut flora, a complex ecosystem composed of billions of microorganisms, might be involved in MS and other chronic inflammatory diseases. Our project investigates the gut flora in families with 2 or more FDRs with MS. We compare shared and unshared characteristics among pairs of FDRs who both have MS and among mixed pairs (one has MS, the other does not have MS). Finding differences in the shared characteristics between these pairs contributes to unravel the complexity of interactions which influence the risk of getting MS.