Gut microbial alterations associated with protection from autoimmune uveitis

Yukiko K. Nakamura, Christina Metea, Lisa Karstens, Mark Asquith, Henry Gruner, Cathleen Moscibrocki, Iris Lee, Colin J. Brislawn, Janet K. Jansson, James T. Rosenbaum, Phoebe Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To investigate the contribution of the gut microbiota to the pathogenesis of uveitis. METHODS. Experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) in B10.RIII mice was induced using interphotoreceptor binding protein peptide. Mice were treated with oral or intraperitoneal (IP) antibiotics. Effector (Teff) and regulatory (Treg) T lymphocytes were identified using flow cytometry; 16S rRNA gene sequencing and qPCR were performed on gastrointestinal (GI) contents. RESULTS. Broad-spectrum (four antibiotics given simultaneously) oral, but not IP, antibiotics reduced mean uveitis clinical scores significantly compared with water-treated animals (0.5 vs. 3.0, P < 0.0001 for oral; 3.4 vs. 3.4, P > 0.99 for IP). Both oral metronidazole (P = 0.02) and vancomycin (P < 0.0001) alone decreased inflammation, whereas neomycin (P = 0.7) and ampicillin (P = 0.4) did not change mean uveitis scores. Oral broad-spectrum antibiotics increased Tregs in the GI lamina propria of EAU animals at 1 week, and in extraintestinal lymphoid tissues later, whereas Teff and inflammatory cytokines were reduced. 16S sequencing of GI contents revealed altered microbiota in immunized mice compared with nonimmunized mice, and microbial diversity clustering in EAU mice treated with uveitisprotective antibiotics. Experimental autoimmune uveitis mice also demonstrated gut microbial diversity clustering associated with clinical score severity. CONCLUSIONS. Oral antibiotics modulate the severity of inducible EAU by increasing Tregs in the gut and extraintestinal tissues, as well as decreasing effector T cells and cytokines. 16S sequencing suggests that there may be protective and, conversely, potentially uveitogenic, gut microbiota. These findings may lead to a better understanding of how uveitis can be treated or prevented by modulating the gut microbiome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3747-3758
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2016


  • Antibiotics
  • Microbiome
  • Regulatory T cells
  • Uveitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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