AMBROSIAC A Menu for Brain Responses Opposing Stress-Induced Alterations in Cognition investigates how diet, through stress-related mechanisms, affects cognition across the lifespan using preclinical and clinical approaches.

AMBROSIAC is a multidisciplinary Europe wide project comprising of groups of researchers in University College Cork, Ireland, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Bonn, Germany, NUTRIM School of Nutrition and translational Research in Metabolism, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, University Bordeaux, France, Department of Neuroscience, University of Florence, Italy and Kings College London, University of Cambridge, UK.

In this collaborative project AMBROSIAC seeks to measure the effect of nutrition and nutritional interventions on increased susceptibility for stress-induced cognitive deficits and age-related cognitive decline in memory and executive functioning from adulthood to old age in humans and preclinical models.

The molecular mechanisms by which targeted nutritional interventions improve stress-induced vulnerabilities in cognition will be investigated and the gut microbiota will be investigated as a novel critical signalling mediator between nutritional intake, stress susceptibility and maintenance of cognitive health in ageing.

Elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms and pathways through which nutrition can promote the resistance of neurons to insults and enhance mental fitness will help us to determine how best to modulate diet composition in order to attenuate stress vulnerability, reduce susceptibility to metabolic disorders, and ultimately promote brain health during healthy ageing.

The AMBROSIAC team in Ireland,  Professor John Cryan, Professor Timothy Dinan, Professor Catherine Stanton, Dr. Gerard Clarke and Dr. Harriet Schellekens have recently been awarded key research funding under the umbrella of the JPI HDHL Joint Call "Nutrition and Cognitive Function"  investigating how diet through stress-related mechanisms affects cognition across the lifespan using clinical and preclinical approaches.

Diet and nutritional habits significantly impact on brain fitness, mental and cognitive health throughout the lifespan. Chronic stress has been shown to negatively impact brain plasticity and cognitive performance, in particular in the ageing brain. Interestingly, the aged brain resembles the stressed brain on both behavioural and cellular levels and stress-induced cognitive alterations are likely to be more marked in the elderly.

The aged brain is particularly vulnerable to stress-induced cognitive decline and will benefit tremendously from mechanistically-oriented dietary interventions to attenuate such cognitive impairment and to provide a general boost on brain health. Moreover, cognitive decline is increasingly present in the ageing population, who are living with chronic diseases and subject to elevated levels of psychological stress, which are both huge challenges for the EU economy and society.

AMBROSIAC will unravel the direct effects of dietary components, nutritional status, metabolism and the impact of the gut microbiome on cognitive function (i.e., memory and executive function) and how this interaction is modified through stress and ageing