Friday, August 10, 2012

Studies link lupus to staph bacteria

The staphylcoccus aureus bacteria
may be linked to lupus
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
Research recently conducted by the Mayo Clinic points to the possibility that the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (known commonly as staph) may be connected to the development of lupus disease.

In a study using mice, researchers exposed the rodents to low doses of a staph protein over a period of time. The mice developed auto-antibodies and a kidney disease along with lupus-like symptoms, which lead doctors to believe this may also occur with humans.

A little background

Staph bacteria are located all around us. They live on our skin, but are in higher concentrations around moist openings, such as the nose and mouth.  People are only put at risk when there is a break in the skin where the bacteria can get in and cause an infection.

Many of you may have heard of staph infection break-outs in hospitals. Those who are most affected are usually burn victims, people who have a weakened immune system or patients who have undergone surgery. In those serious situations, the bacteria enter the bloodstream resulting in more dangerous infections.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that is suspected to be genetic in some way, although why people develop lupus is still very unclear. There are a few different forms of the disease, the most dangerous one being systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. In each of the cases, the body turns on itself by attacking its own tissue and joints. For people with discoid lupus, the skin becomes inflamed, but with SLE, the body can attack the organs.

What the research means

The fact that the mice have reacted to a protein in the staph bacteria may not only help doctors determine what causes lupus, but might also help them keep people from developing the disease. By determining whether or not the disease is caused by prolonged exposure to staph, doctors may help patients avoid flare-ups. In addition, if it is proven that the staph bacteria causes lupus, doctors could keep lupus from developing at all by minimizing exposure to the staph bacteria.

What do you think about this study? Share your thoughts with us!

Source: EurekAlert!

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