Memory loss and other characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease can be transferred to healthy rats by giving them gut bacteria from Alzheimer’s patients.
The study, conducted by APC Microbiome Ireland (based at University College Cork), and IRCCS Fatebenefratelli and EARA member the University of Milan, both Italy, plus King’s College London, UK, confirms that the gut microbiota – the natural population of microorganisms found in the digestive tract – are involved in brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
As reported in Brain, the team first transplanted samples of faeces from human patients, containing gut microbiota, into rats that had had their own microbiomes depleted with antibiotics. As a result, the animals showed impairments in memory behaviours associated with Alzheimer’s.
The severity of the animals’ brain impairments also correlated with the scores of patients in cognitive tests.
Professor Yvonne Nolan, at APC Microbiome Ireland, said: “Understanding the role of gut microbes during prodromal – or early stage – dementia, before the potential onset of symptoms, may open avenues for new therapy development, or even individualised intervention.”