13 Feb 2017 --- New research from Lund University in Sweden has shown that intestinal bacteria can accelerate the development of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers behind the study say that the results open up the door to new opportunities for preventing and treating the disease.
Because gut bacteria has a major impact on how people feel through the interaction between the immune system, the intestinal mucosa and the diet, the composition of the gut microbiota is of great interest to research on diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Exactly how human gut microbiota composition is composed depends on which bacteria an individual receives at birth, our genes and our diet. By studying both healthy and diseased mice, the researchers found that mice suffering from Alzheimer's have a different composition of gut bacteria compared to mice that are healthy.
They also studied Alzheimer's disease in mice that completely lacked bacteria to further test the relationship between intestinal bacteria and the disease.
Mice without bacteria had a significantly smaller amount of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain, which are the lumps that form at the nerve fibers 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 beta-amyloid plaques 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,” says researcher Frida Fåk Hållenius, at the Food for Health Science Centre.
“It was striking that the mice which completely lacked bacteria developed much less plaque in the brain.”
The researchers say that their results will now allow them to 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.”
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