Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an autoimmune condition and an inflammatory form of arthritis. Although more research is necessary, it may be connected to imbalances in a person’s microbiome.
Helpful and harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa live both inside the body and on the skin. These organisms make up a person’s microbiome. The microbiome plays a part in the body’s immune system.
Microbes also produce vital nutrients that the body may not produce in sufficient quantities for optimum immune function.
Some evidence suggests that the microbiome surrounding the human body may play a role in PsA and psoriasis. It may also affect its treatment.
Keep reading for more information on what the microbiome is and how it affects PsA.
The microbiome is a microscopic community of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. Most of the organisms on or in the body have a symbiotic relationship with the body. In other words, both the person and the microorganisms benefit from each other.
The microbiome also contains small amounts of harmful organisms. Under normal conditions, there are not enough harmful organisms to cause a problem.
However, if the balance of good and bad organisms shifts, a person may be more prone to certain conditions.
Research regarding the role of the microbiome in PsA is still in its initial stages. Scientists are currently looking closer at the relationship between the two.
However, when the organisms living in the microbiome are out of balance, a person may be more vulnerable to certain health conditions.
Environmental factors and genes play a role in the development of PsA. Changes in the microbiome may also trigger this condition.
The microbiome within the gut helps promote the immune system. According to a 2013 study, the microorganisms in the intestines help break down potentially harmful toxins. They also help create amino acids and vitamins.
A 2018 study found that there was a difference between the gut bacteria of people without psoriasis and those of people with psoriasis or PsA. Specifically, the researchers found that people living with either condition “showed decreased abundance of the Coprococcus genus.”
The study also showed that people with PsA had lower levels of Akkermansia and Ruminococcus genera.
The researchers also found lower levels of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs help support different body functions. Scientists believe that future research should look further into biological treatments for PsA.
Differences in microbiome organisms may also affect who might develop PsA. According to a 2018 study, people with psoriasis who have lower levels of flora on their skin may be at a higher risk of developing PsA.
The study also showed that higher levels of Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium bacteria are present in people living with PsA and psoriasis.
Each person’s microbiome is unique and starts to develop from birth. An infant comes into contact with microorganisms in the birth canal. They also gain microorganisms through formula and breast milk.
Over time, certain lifestyle factors can also influence the health and growth of a person’s microbiome. These factors could also make a person more susceptible to disease.
Some factors that may influence a person’s microbiome include:
- the environment
- their eating habits
- genetic differences between people
- chronic stress
Researchers are looking into how changes that affect the microbiome may provide therapeutic benefit.
Some potential ways to boost the microbiome include:
- using prebiotics or probiotics
- using antimicrobial therapy or antibiotics
- transplanting microbial populations onto the skin (for psoriasis)
- supplementing with estrogen
- taking oral contraceptives
- using certain immune modulators
There are also some lifestyle changes that may help improve the balance of the microbiome in the gut.
Some steps a person can take include:
- eating foods high in fiber
- exercising regularly
- managing stress
- getting regular sleep
- trying to eat organic foods more than processed foods
- properly cleaning fruits and vegetables to minimize exposure to chemicals and fertilizers
- limiting fats from fried foods, salad dressings, and other sources
- reducing or avoiding animal products, including meats and dairy
- eating prebiotic foods, such as spinach, whole wheat, and bananas
- eating probiotic foods, such as miso and sauerkraut
A person should talk to their doctor before making major changes to their diet or exercise plan. The doctor can provide guidance based on a person’s needs, such as how other health conditions might affect them.
A person should also see their doctor if they notice their symptoms of PsA getting worse. The doctor may need to adjust their treatment plan to help suppress the symptoms.
The microbiome is a community of various microorganisms that may have a link to PsA.
When there are fewer good microorganisms, a person may be more susceptible to conditions such as PsA. Although more research is needed, dietary changes and the use of prebiotics and probiotics may help increase the amount of good bacteria in the microbiome.