Antibiotics protect against EAE by increasing regulatory and anti-inflammatory cells

Hilary A. Seifert, Gil Benedek, Ha Nguyen, Grant Gerstner, Ying Zhang, Gail Kent, Arthur A. Vandenbark, Jürgen Bernhagen, Halina Offner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


A seven day pretreatment course of an oral antibiotic cocktail (Ampicillin, Metronidazole, Neomycin Sulfate, and Vancomycin) was shown to induce changes in peripheral immune regulation and protect mice from signs of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). To determine if a shorter course of antibiotic pretreatment could also protect the mice from EAE and induce regulatory immune cells, studies were conducted using the same oral antibiotic cocktail for three days. In addition, the CNS was examined to determine the effects of antibiotic pretreatment on EAE disease course and immune modulation within the affected tissue. The shorter three day pretreatment course was also significantly protective against severe EAE in C57BL/6 mice. Moreover, our study found increased frequencies of regulatory cells and a decrease in the frequency of anti-inflammatory macrophages in the spleen of EAE protected mice. Additionally, a chemokine and chemokine receptor array run on mRNA from spinal cords revealed that genes associated with regulatory T cells and macrophage recruitment were strongly upregulated in the antibiotic pretreated mice. Additional RT-PCR data showed genes associated with anti-inflammatory microglia/macrophages were upregulated and pro-inflammatory genes were downregulated. This suggests the macrophages recruited to the spinal cord by chemokines are subsequently polarized toward an anti-inflammatory phenotype. These results lend strong support to the conclusion that a three day course of antibiotic treatment given prior to the induction of severe EAE profoundly protected the mice by inducing regulatory lymphocytes in the periphery and an anti-inflammatory milieu in the affected spinal cord tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1599-1607
Number of pages9
JournalMetabolic brain disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Antibiotic
  • CNS
  • EAE
  • Microbiota
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Regulatory cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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