Gut bacteria may play a role in Alzheimer's disease

February 10, 2017, Lund University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

New research from Lund University in Sweden has shown that intestinal bacteria can accelerate the development of Alzheimer's disease. According to the researchers behind the study, the results open up the door to new opportunities for preventing and treating the disease.

Because our gut have a major impact on how we feel through the interaction between the immune system, the intestinal mucosa and our diet, the composition of the gut microbiota is of great interest to research on diseases such as Alzheimer's. Exactly how our gut microbiota composition is composed depends on which bacteria we receive at birth, our genes and our diet.

By studying both healthy and diseased , the researchers found that mice suffering from Alzheimer's have a different composition of compared to mice that are healthy. The researchers also studied Alzheimer's disease in mice that completely lacked bacteria to further test the relationship between and the disease. Mice without bacteria had a significantly smaller amount of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. Beta-amyloid plaques are the lumps that form at the nerve fibres in cases of Alzheimer's disease.

To clarify the link between intestinal flora and the occurrence of the disease, the researchers transferred intestinal bacteria from diseased mice to germ-free mice, and discovered that the mice developed more in the brain compared to if they had received bacteria from healthy mice.

"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", says researcher Frida Fåk Hållenius, at the Food for Health Science Centre.

"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."

The research is a result of an international collaboration between Associate Professor Frida Fåk Hållenius and doctoral student Nittaya Marungruang, both at the Food for Health Science Centre in Lund, and a research group at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. The collaboration has now expanded to include researchers from Germany and Belgium in connection with receiving a SEK 50 million EU grant.

The researchers will continue to study the role of bacteria in the development of Alzheimer's disease, and test entirely new types of preventive and therapeutic strategies based on the modulation of the through diet and new types of probiotics.

Explore further: Researchers target gut bacteria to reduce weight gain

More information: T. Harach et al. Reduction of Abeta amyloid pathology in APPPS1 transgenic mice in the absence of gut microbiota, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/srep41802

Related Stories

Researchers target gut bacteria to reduce weight gain

August 29, 2016
A new therapy that involves engineered gut bacteria may one day help reduce the health problems that come with obesity. Incorporating the engineered bacteria into the guts of mice both kept them from gaining weight and protected ...

Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine

December 8, 2016
Deficiency in a certain protein in the gastrointestinal tract has been shown to lead to both inflammation and abdominal fat accumulation in mice. The discovery provides yet another piece of the puzzle of how humans are affected—or ...

Researchers find link between intestinal bacteria and white blood cell cancer

July 16, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered that specific types of bacteria that live in the gut are major contributors to lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells.

Scientists discover that the immune system affects gut bacteria evolution

December 2, 2015
Our health is strongly dependent on the diversity of bacteria that inhabits our intestinal tract and on how the immune system tolerates it or responds to the pathogenic bacteria to prevent disease. In a study published this ...

Body's immune system may play larger role in Alzheimer's disease than thought

February 23, 2016
Immune cells that normally help us fight off bacterial and viral infections may play a far greater role in Alzheimer's disease than originally thought, according to University of California, Irvine neurobiologists with the ...

Recommended for you

Rate of dementia on the decline—but beware of growing numbers

April 17, 2018
The good news? The rate of older Americans with dementia is on the decline.

Americans with a college education live longer without dementia and Alzheimer's

April 16, 2018
Education gives people an edge in their later years, helping them to keep dementia at bay and their memories intact, a new USC-led study has found.

Research offers potential insight into Alzheimer's disease

April 16, 2018
Slightly elevated beta-amyloid levels in the brain are associated with increased activity in certain brain regions, according to a new study from the Center for Vital Longevity (CVL) at The University of Texas at Dallas.

Evidence mounts for Alzheimer's, suicide risks among youth in polluted cities

April 13, 2018
A University of Montana researcher and her collaborators have published a new study that reveals increased risks for Alzheimer's and suicide among children and young adults living in polluted megacities.

Improving brain function in Alzheimer's disease mouse model

April 11, 2018
Using two complementary approaches to reduce the deposits of amyloid-beta in the brain rather than either approach alone improved spatial navigation and memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. These findings suggest ...

Sleepless nights show ties to Alzheimer's risk

April 10, 2018
Even one night of lost sleep may cause the brain to fill with protein chunks that have long been linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease, a new study warns.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.