Gut microbiota composition during a 12-week intervention with delayed-release dimethyl fumarate in multiple sclerosis – a pilot trial
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMultiple Sclerosis Journal, Experimental, Translational and Clinical. 2019, 1-13 10.1177/2055217319888767
Introduction Patients with multiple sclerosis may have a distinct gut microbiota profile. Delayed-release dimethyl fumarate is an orally administered drug for relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis, which has been associated with gastrointestinal side-effects in some patients. Objectives The purpose of this study was to determine if dimethyl fumarate alters the abundance and diversity of commensal gut bacteria, and if these changes are associated with gastrointestinal side-effects. Methods Thirty-six patients with relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis received either dimethyl fumarate (n = 27) or an injectable multiple sclerosis disease-modifying therapy (glatiramer acetate or interferons, n = 9) for 12 weeks. Stool samples were collected at baseline, two and 12 weeks. We included 165 healthy individuals as controls. Results At baseline, 16 microbial genera were altered in multiple sclerosis patients compared with healthy controls. In the dimethyl fumarate-treated patients (n = 21) we observed a trend of reduced Actinobacteria (p = 0.03, QFDR = 0.24) at two weeks, mainly driven by Bifidobacterium (p = 0.06, QFDR = 0.69). At 12 weeks, we observed an increased abundance of Firmicutes (p = 0.02, QFDR = 0.09), mostly driven by Faecalibacterium (p = 0.01, QFDR = 0.48). Conclusions This pilot study did not detect a major effect of dimethyl fumarate on the gut microbiota composition, but we observed a trend towards normalization of the low abundance of butyrate-producing Faecalibacterium after 12 weeks treatment. The study was underpowered to link microbiota to gastrointestinal symptoms.