When it comes to Alzheimer’s, these researchers say to trust your gut.
A group of European and UK scientists conducted multiple studies to prove the link between good health and the disease which causes dementia. Their findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference 2022 on Wednesday.
The first study shows how the intestinal microbiomes – the bacteria in the gut – differ greatly between patients who do have the disorder and those who do not.
Another studied rodents that performed poorly on memory tests after receiving fecal transplants from Alzheimer’s patients.
Lastly, the third study found that brain stem cells treated with blood from people with the brain disorder were not as able to grow new nerve cells.
In conclusion, the variety of studies uncovered the secret to solving Alzheimer’s, estimated to affect more than 5 million Americans, may be linked to how gut bacteria influences inflammation in the body, which also affects blood supply to the brain.
Inflammation is already seen as a key contributor to Alzheimer’s development, according to the researchers, but these studies are the next step in potentially curing the disease, although they have not been peer reviewed yet.
The Centers of Excellence in Neurodegeneration project, which conducted the studies, is a collaborative, international effort between the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London; APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork; and the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory at IRCCS, Italy.
Dr. Edina Silajdžić, a postdoctoral fellow at King’s College London, analyzed the blood samples of 68 Alzheimer’s patients and compared them to a similar number of those without the disorder, revealing a “distinct gut bacteria makeup” and more inflammation in people with Alzheimer’s.
“Most people are surprised that their gut bacteria could have any bearing on the health of their brain, but the evidence is mounting, and we are building an understanding of how this comes about,” Silajdžić said.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, only the medication aducanumab, which is a type of immunotherapy that reduces brain lesions that are associated with the disease.
Professor Yvonne Nolan from University College Cork, a leader of the collaborative study, said that it has been “proving difficult to directly tackle” the disease in the brain, but the gut is a potentially different avenue for treatment, that could be “easier to influence with drugs or diet changes. ”
But Dr. Susan Kohlhaas, the director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said that future research is necessary to build on the findings to create a better picture of what factors play into Alzheimer’s development.
“The makeup of our gut microbiome is one of several potential dementia risk factors that we could influence by leading a healthy life,” she continued. “To maintain a healthy brain as we age the best current evidence suggests that we should keep physically fit, eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, not smoke, only drink within the recommended limits and keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check.”