Mouse Study Suggests Gut Bacteria May Influence Brain Health

Gut biome manipulation may have potential as a prevention or treatment strategy for neurodegenerative diseases.

The gut biome has been a hot research topic in recent years. Scores of studies have found evidence that microbiota living in the gastrointestinal tract play a significant role in health and wellbeing.

In addition, some studies have found that the gut microbiome can differ in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, why this occurs is unclear.

Recently, scientists from Washington University School of Medicine investigated the role gut bacteria play in the neurodegeneration associated with AD.

The study, published on January 13, appears in the journal Science.

To conduct the research, the scientists altered the gut biomes of genetically modified mice predisposed to developing Alzheimer’s-like cognitive impairment and brain damage.

The scientists manipulated the rodent’s microbiota by raising them in a germ-free environment and using antibiotics.

They found that manipulating the rodent’s gut biomes influenced how much AD-related brain damage occurred.

Specifically, the team discovered that gut bacteria impact how immune cells behave in the body, including immune cells that can harm tissue in the brain. The damage caused by this rogue immune cell behavior may exacerbate the degeneration of neurons — as seen in conditions like AD.

Although the study used mice and not humans, the scientist suggests their findings open the door to potential neurodegenerative disease prevention and treatment strategies involving gut biome manipulation with probiotics, antibiotics, and special diets.

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