News Archive 2022

Gut health plays a role in Alzheimer’s development, new study says

9 Mar 2022
Professor Cora O'Neill, Professor Yvonne Nolan and Dr Stefanie Grabrucker

Conference presentation: Alzheimer’s Research UK 2022 Conference. New research, which hasn’t yet been peer reviewed, presented at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference 2022 at the Brighton Centre, and profiled in the New York Post highlights newly identified links between gut bacteria, inflammation and brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

In research conducted by Dr. Stefanie Grabrucker, a postdoctoral researcher at APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork led by Professor Yvonne Nolan, stool samples from people with and without Alzheimer’s disease (recruited through collaboration with Dr. Annamaria Cattaneo, IRCCS, Italy) were transplanted into rats.

Professor Yvonne Nolan, who is leading this collaborative Centres of Excellence in Neurodegeneration (CoEN) project with partners in King’s College London and IRCCS, Italy and who presented the work said:“We found that rats with gut bacteria from people with Alzheimer’s performed worse in memory tests, didn’t grow as many new nerve cells in areas of the brain associated with memory and had higher levels of inflammation in the brain.”

"Our findings suggest that symptoms of Alzheimer’s may, in part, be caused by abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract. While it is currently proving difficult to directly tackle Alzheimer’s processes in the brain, the gut potentially represents an alternative target that may be easier to influence with drugs or diet changes.”

Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia. With one in three people born today likely to develop dementia in their lifetime, scientists are exploring potential links that could help uncover approaches for new treatments. This includes work to better understand the health of our gut and our brain.

The gut is host to a community of bacteria called the intestinal microbiome. The precise make-up of the microbiome differs between individuals, in both the types and quantities of bacteria present. This microbial composition can have far-reaching effects on other parts of our body and emerging evidence has suggested a relationship with brain health and the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The work is profiled in the New York Post: The secret to stopping Alzheimer’s is in your gut, not brain, experts say.

The research described here was funded as part of the Network of Centres of Excellence in Neurodegeneration (COEN) coordinated by Professor Yvonne Nolan on “Gut microbes, Neuroinflammation and Alzheimer’s disease: determining the immunoregulatory role of gut microbiota on brain and behaviour”. Principal Investigators are Yvonne Nolan and Cora O’Neill (Republic of Ireland, funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)), Annamaria Cattaneo (Italy, funded by Ministero della Salute (MDS)), Sandrine Thuret (UK, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC))

Photograph B.Riedewald

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