Study confirms genetic link between gut disorders and Alzheimer’s

Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

A new study revealed that people with Alzheimer’s disease and gut disorders have several genes in common, linking various gut disorders to Alzheimer’s and paving the way for earlier detection and improved treatments for the disease.

The study, published in the journal, Communications Biology, was conducted by researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Joondalup, Australia and led by Emmanuel Adewuyi, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the Centre for Precision Health at ECU. For this investigation, Adewuyi and his team of researchers set out to better understand the genetic link between gut disorders and AD.

The team analyzed multiple sets of genetic data from studies involving genetic information on an average of 400,000 individuals with gut disorders and AD. Upon observation, scientists discovered significant genetic overlap between individuals with AD and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease (PUD), gastritis-duodenitis (GD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and diverticulosis. The study did not find a link between AD and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Through cross-trait meta-analysis, and confirmed by colocalization and gene-based analyses, the study found that AD and GERD as well as PUD shared several loci including, PDE4B, BRINP3, ATG16L1, SEMA3F, HLA-DRA, SCARA3, MTSS2, PHB, and TOMM40.

“These findings provide further evidence to support the concept of the ‘gut-brain’ axis, a two-way link between the brain’s cognitive and emotional centers, and the functioning of the intestines,” said the study’s supervisor, Simon Laws, director of the Centre for Precision Health at ECU, in a statement.

The study also indicated that patients with both AD and gut disorders had abnormal rates of cholesterol.

“Whilst further study is needed into the shared mechanisms between the conditions, there is evidence high cholesterol can transfer into the central nervous system, resulting in abnormal cholesterol metabolism in the brain.” Said Adewuyi.

The study’s researchers concluded that there is a significant genetic association between patients with gut disorders and AD. According to the study’s researchers, their data also indicated a link between cholesterol levels and AD and gut disorders and suggested that cholesterol-lowering medications may help treat both AD and gut disorders.

“Looking at the genetic and biological characteristics common to AD and these gut disorders suggests a strong role for lipids metabolism, the immune system, and cholesterol-lowering medications,” he said.