Nutrition to fight against neurodegeneration? Maybe, says the critic
These are the future possibilities envisioned in a review authored by researchers, which outlines these future scenarios, made possible by the advent of new advanced models and a greater focus on omics technologies.
The article, written by industrial and academic researchers, also highlights the need to support bioinformatics resources (training, tools) to effectively translate the study results, as well as the identification of relevant targets in the populations studied.
“Machine learning technology will become increasingly essential to improve the efficiency and accuracy of study results,”the notice indicates.
“Indeed, bioinformatics holds the key to integrating large multi-dimensional datasets and, from there, to better understanding their clinical significance.
“At the current rate of technological development, it is now possible to imagine the potential of such tools to identify high-risk patients at an early stage, determine what microbial/immunological imbalances may be causing such risks, and suggest possible interventions for them. mitigate.”
write in Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, the research team takes stock of the current situation, in which the microbiota is now firmly at the center of nutritional and therapeutic strategies to improve brain health and well-being.
Major pathways of interest include the vagus nerve which includes efferent and afferent neurons and is considered the physical connection between the brain and the gut.
The nerve carries motor signals between the brain and the organs, including the intestinal cells, which are also subject to the influence of the intestinal microbiota. The brain is thus able to “sense” the environment in the gut, the article adds.
Role of the immune system
The immune system, which has strong roots in the gastrointestinal tract, also plays a central role. Evidence for the crucial role of the immune system in ASD, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cerebrovascular disease is growing, all of which have low-grade systemic inflammatory components.
According to the team, this low-grade inflammation is indicative of a dysfunctional immune response and a dysbiotic microbiota.
The paper, which includes researchers from Cargill, DSM, IFF Health and Biosciences and Yakult Europe, also discusses the potential of nutritional and therapeutic strategies to treat some of these conditions.
Here, food supplementation with pro-, pre-, syn- and postbiotics, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and phytochemicals, such as polyphenols, which can act as prebioticsshowed a lot of promise.
Similarly, diets high in fiber, which promote the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by the intestinal microbiota, are a Promising interventionto overcome the disorders of cognitive and social functions induced by maternal obesity.
Fecal microbiota transplants
The article also highlights the possibilities of faecal microbiota transplants as another potential therapeutic opportunity, having already demonstrated influencehedonic food intake in mice.
The benefits of fecal microbiota transplants can also be applied to cognitive performance and age-related disorders, as the review mentions studies in mice that have shown that transplants correct age-related defects in immune function. .
A similar transplant from old mice to young mice adversely impacts key CNS functions.
These and other findings highlight the importance of the microbiota-gut-brain axis during aging and raise the possibility that a “young” microbiota may maintain or improve cognitive functions in later years of life. life.
Neurological research suggests that the microbiota also plays a role in neurodegenerative diseases, the researchers say, adding: “This supports the idea that an aging gut microbiota may be linked to immune and neuronal dysfunction in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Indeed, studies of fecal microbiota transplants in transgenic mouse models indicate a causal relationship between gut microbiota, protein aggregation and cognitive problems. Further studies are needed to confirm this.
The team recognizes that preventing brain disorders may remain out of reach for the foreseeable future, although mapping healthy microbiota and communication pathways may enable early prediction of neurological disorders.
“Early signs of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, for example, are known to develop many years before diagnosis. Imagine if it were possible to slow down neurodegenerative processes by modifying the microbiome,” the paper concludes.
“A similar scenario is imaginable for children with ASD. What if dietary influences on the gut microbiota could both relieve gastrointestinal irritation and calm anxiety and hyperactivity? What if it were possible to supplement drug and psychiatric therapy for schizophrenia with targeted foods like probiotics? »
“Now is the time to dig even deeper through integrated, multidisciplinary research aimed at understanding microbiota-gut-brain mechanisms and identifying real opportunities to adapt and adjust the microbiota for better brain health throughout the lifespan. of life. Continued public and private sector investment is essential to maintain momentum.
Source: Cell. Mol. Science of life
Published online: doi.org/10.1007/s00018-021-04060-w
“The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis: Pathways to Better Brain Health. Perspectives on what we know, what we need to study, and how to put knowledge into practice. »
Authors: Chakrabarti, A., Geurts, L., Hoyles, L. et al.