In an international collaboration, headed up by the Lud University in Sweden, scientists have recently discovered a direct link between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease. These findings give new opportunity for Alzheimer’s prevention, rather than treatment of symptoms.
Our diet and what we receive from our mothers at birth determine the composition of our gut microbiota. Because gut flora is not set in stone, we have opportunity to alter our flora and create better health, avoiding numerous diseases. This fact made scientists curious to investigate the impacts of gut health on Alzheimer’s.
In this study they looked at mice, both with and without, the Alzheimer’s disease. What they found was astonishing. The healthy mice had very different intestinal flora than those suffering from Alzheimer’s. They also found those with unhealthy gut bacteria had much higher amounts of brain plaque forming at the nerve fibers, which is a characteristic trait of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers wanted to further clarify the link between gut flora and Alzheimer’s. So, they transferred intestinal flora from both healthy and diseased mice to mice that had no gut bacteria. What they found was the mice that received the diseased bacteria developed much higher amounts of brain plaque at the nerve fibers. The mice that received the healthy gut flora had much less plaque development.
“Our study is unique as it shows a direct causal link between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease. It was striking that the mice which completely lacked bacteria developed much less plaque in the brain. The results mean that we can now begin researching ways to prevent the disease and delay the onset. We consider this to be a major breakthrough as we used to only be able to give symptom-relieving antiretroviral drugs,” says researcher Frida Fåk Hållenius, at the Food for Health Science Centre.
The next steps for scientific research will include continued testing on different types of gut bacteria and their role in Alzheimer’s disease. Also, new prevention methods will be tested focusing on various types of probiotics, and the effects of specific diets.
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