Gut bacteria’s association with the symptoms of MS

Dr Wolfgang Marx

Deakin University

| Causes and Prevention | Immunology | Incubator | 2018 | Investigator Led Research |


This project is investigating the gut microbiome, or the overall composition of bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract. Changes in gut bacteria have been suggested to contribute to the progression of MS and enhancement of MS symptoms. Since the bacterial composition might be modifiable, it is vitally important to determine its contribution to MS. 

This study will investigate the gut bacteria of people with MS who are undertaking an existing clinical trial, called RELIEF. This is a 16-week trial testing the effects of dietary supplements on depression and fatigue in MS. Dr Wolfgang Marx and his team will be looking at the gut bacteria of 150 people with MS who are participating in the trial to examine whether there are any changes to their gut bacteria during the trial and whether the composition of the gut bacteria influences the clinical severity or progression of their disease. 

Progress to Date

Significant progress has been made by Dr Wolfgang Marx and his team over the past year.  

The collection of microbiome samples is well underway, and in the coming year, the samples will be processed, along with the collection of food diaries. Dr Marx has also gained valuable skills in remote data collection, which will greatly enhance recruitment efforts for future projects. Completing recruitment for the RELIEF trial is a significant milestone for the project.  

In addition, Dr Marx has contributed to a systematic review on the role of probiotics in MS.  

He has also completed a related clinical trial investigating probiotic interventions on brain imaging outcomes, providing preliminary evidence that will inform the analysis and discussion of this project.  

The progress in the microbiome analysis has been substantial, and with the trial data collection soon to be completed, the analysis phase will commence.  

Dr Marx has also established collaborations through a position as the President of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, an international research society in this field.  


  • Panizzutti B, Skvarc D, Lin S, Croce S, Meehan A, Bortolasci CC, Marx W, Walker AJ, Hasebe K, Kavanagh BE, Morris MJ. Minocycline as Treatment for Psychiatric and Neurological Conditions: A Systematic Review and MetaAnalysis. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2023 Mar 9;24(6):5250.  
  • Veronese N, Yang L, Piccio L, Smith L, Firth J, Marx W, Giannelli G, Caruso MG, Cisternino AM, Notarnicola M, Donghia R. Adherence to a healthy lifestyle and multiple sclerosis: a case–control study from the UK Biobank. Nutritional neuroscience. 2020 Dec 8:1-9 
  • Arnoldy L, Gauci S, Young LM, Marx W, Macpherson H, Pipingas A, Civier O, White DJ. The association of dietary and nutrient patterns on neurocognitive decline: a systematic review of MRI and PET studies. Ageing Research Reviews. 2023 Mar 5:101892.

Updated: 31 March 2023

Updated: 02 January, 2018


  • Dr Wolfgang Marx, Deakin University


  • Professor Anne-Louise Ponsonby, Murdoch Children's Research Institute
  • Professor Robyn Lucas, Australian National University
  • Professor Mimi Tang, Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Grant Awarded

  • Incubator Grant

Total Funding

  • $24,110


  • 6 years

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Gut bacteria’s association with the symptoms of MS