An animal study has reportedly suggested that dietary long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) can increase the severity of chronic-inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Aiden Haghikia, et al., “Dietary Fatty Acids Directly Impact Central Nervous System Autoimmunity via the Small Intestine,” Immunity, October 2015. Using murine cell cultures and experimental models, researchers evidently showed that LCFAs “enhanced the differentiation and proliferation” of central nervous system reactive immune cells in the intestinal wall, while short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) promoted the development of regulatory cells that control excessive inflammation.

“These data demonstrate a direct dietary impact on intestinal-specific, and subsequently central nervous system-specific, Th cell responses in autoimmunity, and thus might have therapeutic implications for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis,” states the study, which remarks that these effects did not appear in germ-free intestinal environments and raises questions about the role of the microbiome in mediating autoimmune responses. The researchers apparently plan to use their findings to “develop innovative dietary add-on therapies to established immunotherapies in multiple sclerosis.”