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How your gut can influence your brain short review of Alzheimer

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia. Slow progression, still incurable,

How your gut can influence your brain – a short review of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia. Slow progression, still incurable, directly affects nearly one million people in Europe and millions of family members as a direct result. We have already discussed how a blood test is being developed to detect Alzheimer’s early. In this blog, we will explore a possible role for gut bacteria in inducing Alzheimer’s.

Intestinal bacteria can influence the functioning of the brain and promote neurodegeneration through several pathways. It is possible for the bacteria in our gut to influence the regulation of our immune system, and in turn how our immune system interacts with the nervous system. Components of bacterial cell membranes known to create a pro-inflammatory state have been found in amyloid plaques and around blood vessels in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Intestinal bacteria also have the potential to produce metabolites that appear to have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.

Though it sounds unusual that bacteria can have both pro and anti-inflammatory properties, the balance between the two may be critical in determining whether the bacteria have a beneficial or detrimental effect. Studies have looked into whether these inflammatory mediators and metabolites form a link between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s amyloid plaques. These studies have shown a very clear link – high blood levels of lipopolysaccharides and short-chain fatty acids (bacterial membrane and metabolites respectively) have been associated with large amyloid deposits in the brain.

The challenge now remains on identifying the specific group of bacteria responsible for these pro-inflammatory changes and pro-amyloid metabolites. Once identified, it may be possible to influence the presence of these bacteria, or promote bacteria with anti-inflammatory properties, either through the administration of these bacteria via a pill or pro-biotic cocktails.

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