Harnessing the microbiome to improve stroke recovery
Supplementing the body's short chain fatty acids can improve stroke recovery, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci. Short chain fatty acid supplementation may be a non-invasive addition to stroke rehabilitation therapies.
The gut microbiome influences brain health, including how the brain recovers from stroke. Short chain fatty acids, a fermentation product from the bacteria in our guts, are a key component of gut health but their role in stroke recovery has not been explored.
Sadler et al. added short chain fatty acids to the drinking water of mice for four weeks before inducing a stroke. The mice that drank the fatty acid water experienced a better stroke recovery compared to the control mice, including reduced motor impairment and increased spine growth on dendrites—a crucial memory structure. Additionally, the fatty acid-supplemented mice expressed more genes related to microglia, the brain's immune cells. Microglia activity could be responsible for increasing dendritic spines and improving stroke outcome. This relationship indicates short chain fatty acids may serve as messengers in the gut-brain connection by influencing how the brain responds to injury.