Altering gut microbiome in mice may pave the way to new Alzheimer's treatments, study suggests

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New research from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) found when the gut microbiomes of animal models of Alzheimer’s disease were modulated, their behavior and cognition also changed, paving the way for new treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, built upon a previous OHSU investigation which found a link between the gut microbiome make up of mice carrying genes associated with Alzheimer’s and their cognitive and behavioral performance. The new study sought to explore whether changes to the gut microbiome correspond to changes in mice brains. To do so, scientists changed the microbiome chemistry of germ-free mice aged eight to nine weeks old with a fecal implant from six-month-old mice modeling Alzheimer’s disease. Four weeks after inoculation, scientists observed the mice’s behavioral and cognitive performances.

The study’s results showed behavioral and cognitive changes in three separate genotypes in both male and female mouse recipients. Of those, two genotypes were associated with a predisposition to Alzheimer’s in humans.

Researchers concluded that modifying the gut microbiome of mice caused behavioral and cognitive changes in mice. According to the study, these findings suggest the genotype of the donor and recipient may be useful in the development of new therapeutic treatments targeting the gut microbiome in neurodegenerative disorders.

This study is relevant to integrative physicians working on treatment plans for patients with, or at risk for, Alzheimer’s disease.