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New Findings on the Connections Between Gut Microbiota and the Brain

Intestinal bacteria that can boost bravery or trigger multiple sclerosis: An increasing body of research results confirms the importance of the “gut-brain axis” for neurology and indicates that the triggers for a number of neurological diseases may be located in the digestive tract.

“The gut microbiome can influence the central nervous system, the development of nerve cells and the immune system. A better understanding of its effect could revolutionize our therapy options,” noted Dr Patricia Lepage from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Jouy-en-Josas, France, at the Second Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Copenhagen.

Gut microbiota influences behaviour

The gut microbiome is the aggregate of human gut microorganisms with all its bacteria, archaea, viruses and fungi. For a long time, it seemed far-fetched to think that the microbiome could also be responsible for processes outside the digestive tract. Yet the scientific community keeps uncovering further amazing details. Recent studies on laboratory animals which grow up without any microorganisms (germ-free) show for example that microorganisms in the gut are even capable of influencing behaviour. Dr Lepage: “Intestinal microbes can verifiably produce neuromediators that have an effect on the brain. Germ free mice showed less anxiety than their conspecifics whose gut was populated with commensal microbiota. However, there is only scant evidence thus far on how this process works in the human brain.”

It has been proven in the meantime that the gut and the brain communicate with each other via several routes including the vagus nerve, the immune system, the enteric nervous system or by way of microbial metabolic processes. For instance, intestinal bacteria convert carbohydrates into short chain fatty acids, e.g. in butyric acid. This strengthens the connections between the cells and reinforces the blood-brain barrier, which serves as a cellular wall to protect the brain from infections and inflammations… Read More>>

Source: Medical Xpress