Alzheimer: what if our intestines caused it?

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"The brain-gut axis" is of increasing interest to researchers. A new study has confirmed once again that our intestinal flora could influence the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Our microbiota, a true control tower of the body, could well play an important role in the development of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimers. This is confirmed by a team of researchers from the universities of Geneva (Switzerland) and Naples (Italy). Their results suggest that there is a relationship between an imbalance in the gut microbiota and the development of amyloid plaques, which are known to be a sign of Alzheimers disease in the brain.

For several years, studies have multiplied, scientists suspect a link between our microbiota - these billions of bacteria and other fungi that host our intestines - and the development of disease. A year ago, a study showed that diet, thanks to its effect on bacteria in the intestines, could play a role in reducing the risk of Alzheimers. And that a specific diet (in this case Mediterranean) could in some way regulate the development of dementia. More recently, a fecal transplant (which involves transplanting healthy stools into a patient) has yielded astonishing results: A patient treated for a resistant bacterial infection saw his Alzheimers symptoms diminish.

For this new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimers Disease, the scientists recruited 89 patients between the ages of 65 and 85: some had Alzheimers, others had neurodegenerative diseases, and the latter had no memory impairment. They were subjected to brain imaging of the brain and a blood sample. Results: The presence of certain bacteria in the intestinal flora of the participants was correlated with the amount of amyloid plaques in their brains. Therefore, the microbiota would produce metabolites that affect brain functions. Researchers believe that certain proteins from bacteria reach the brain through the bloodstream.

Could we then consider acting on the brain tomorrow by modifying the microbiota, thus providing a cocktail of "friendly" bacteria? The way is open, and researchers following this example still have work to do.

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