A study published sheds new light on the connection between the gut and the brain, untangling the complex interplay that allows the byproducts of microorganisms living in the gut to influence the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.
Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital have been using both animal models and human cells from patients to sort out the key players involved in the gut-brain connection as well as in the crosstalk between immune cells and brain cells. Their new publication defines a pathway that may help guide therapies for multiple sclerosis and other neurologic diseases.
The new research focuses on the influence of gut microbes on two types of cells that play a major role in the central nervous system: microglia and astrocytes. Microglia are an integral part of the body’s immune system, responsible for scavenging the CNS and getting rid of plaques, damaged cells and other materials that need to be cleared. But microglia can also secrete compounds that induce neurotoxic properties on the star-shaped brain cells known as astrocytes. This damage is thought to contribute to many neurologic diseases, including multiple sclerosis.
Brigham researchers have previously explored the gut-brain connection to gain insights into multiple sclerosis. Although some studies have examined how byproducts from organisms living in the gut may promote inflammation in the brain, the current study is the first to report on how microbial products may act directly on microglia to prevent inflammation. The team reports that the byproducts that microbes produce when they break down dietary tryptophan—an amino acid found in turkey and other foods—may limit inflammation in the brain through their influence on microglia.
Article published by Medical Expresshttps://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-05-gut-neurologic-disease.html May 16, 2018, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
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