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The Effects of Oral and Gut Bacteria on B Cell Mediated Autoimmune Diseases

Cassie Jo Cunningham
Cassie Jo Cunningham
Faculty Adviser(s)

Autoimmune diseases interfere with the quality of life. The etiology of these diseases involves underlying mechanisms that are still uncertain. Although many studies have implicated immune responses to certain species of oral and gut bacteria as potential instigators of certain B lymphocyte-mediated autoimmune diseases, one aspect that is not clear is the specificity of the connection between certain bacterial species found in the gut and the mouth and certain autoimmune responses. This literature review specifically explores whether certain B cell-mediated autoimmune diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, involve responses that are specific to certain bacterial species or other taxa, such as Bacteroidaceae with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Crohn's disease involves a response to Enterobacteriaceae as well as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus with Rhodococcus. Alternatively, characteristics of some individuals’ immune systems may make them more susceptible to developing certain patterns of autoimmunity independently of which bacterial species are present. Some studies support specific roles for the bacteria found in the gut and mouth in the development of B cell mediated autoimmune diseases. However, stronger evidence comes from studies involving GF mice and SPF mice pointing towards genetics, the type of bacteria found, and the individual’s immune tolerance is involved in the development of autoimmune diseases.


Cassie Jo is a senior majoring in Biology and minoring in Spanish. She is passionate about genetics and plans to pursue a career in genetic counseling. During her time here at Salem she has held numerous leadership positions including being a lab assistant.