Stephanie Peterson

Effect of a Fructose Rich Diet on Gut Microbiome, Immune Status in Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis

Incidence of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) around the world is highly variable, as are diets. However, the incidence of MS is highest in Western countries where diets rich in fats and simple sugars are often the norm. In Western countries, obesity is often prevalent as well, suggesting that diet and obesity are risk factors for development of MS. Dr. Mangalam’s group has shown that MS patients with active disease have higher BMI compared to MS patients in remission or healthy controls. This observation is further supported by another study showing that MS patients with higher BMI/obese have higher disease relapses than MS patients with normal BMI. To study these links further, we utilize the widely accepted Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE) animal model of MS, as it recapitulates a number of features of human MS.

Although the effect of a high fat diet on EAE is well characterized, the role of high fructose intake on immune system and EAE disease is unknown. Increased consumption of fructose through table sugar and high fructose corn syrup sweeteners is thought to have adverse health effects. High fructose intake has been linked to increased adipose tissue growth, tissue inflammation, gut permeability, and oxidative stress. However, there is a gap in knowledge regarding whether a fructose rich diet (FRD) can accelerate and/or exacerbate EAE and if yes, then by what mechanism(s) FRD modulates disease. We hypothesize that a FRD will cause severe EAE by inducing a pro-inflammatory immune response through modulation of the gut microbiota.

Honors and Awards

  • 3-Minute Thesis Finalist 2020
  • 2021 NMSS award
Peterson, Stephanie
Lino Lakes, MN
BS, BA, Biomedical Sciences, German, Minnesota State University Mankato
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1080 ML
United States

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