Antibiotics ameliorate lupus-like symptoms in mice


Gut microbiota and the immune system interact to maintain tissue homeostasis, but whether this interaction is involved in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is unclear. Here we report that oral antibiotics given during active disease removed harmful bacteria from the gut microbiota and attenuated SLE-like disease in lupus-prone mice. Using MRL/lpr mice, we showed that antibiotics given after disease onset ameliorated systemic autoimmunity and kidney histopathology. They decreased IL-17-producing cells and increased the level of circulating IL-10. In addition, antibiotics removed Lachnospiraceae and increased the relative abundance of Lactobacillus spp., two groups of bacteria previously shown to be associated with deteriorated or improved symptoms in MRL/lpr mice, respectively. Moreover, we showed that the attenuated disease phenotype could be recapitulated with a single antibiotic vancomycin, which reshaped the gut microbiota and changed microbial functional pathways in a time-dependent manner. Furthermore, vancomycin treatment increased the barrier function of the intestinal epithelium, thus preventing the translocation of lipopolysaccharide, a cell wall component of Gram-negative Proteobacteria and known inducer of lupus in mice, into the circulation. These results suggest that mixed antibiotics or a single antibiotic vancomycin ameliorate SLE-like disease in MRL/lpr mice by changing the composition of gut microbiota.