Increased life expectancy and an ageing UK population can require better diagnosis and management of neurodegenerative disorders. The gut can play a key role in relaying signals to the brain, and research has shown that diet is important for certain gut bacteria which may have consequences for brain function.
The Rowett’s Ageing Gut-Brain Study aimed to determine if the gut microbiota of Alzheimer Disease patients with and without behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia differed from healthy adults. Initial results showed that care home residents in comparison to healthy adults have lower concentrations of short chain fatty acids that are important for the communication between the gut and the brain.
Further analysis will hopefully reveal the diversity and composition of bacteria in each group offering therapeutic targets. In a future study, the supplementation with probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics (therapies aimed at altering gut microbial composition) for the treatment of behaviour symptoms, will be assessed.
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This research was conducted by Professor Alexandra Johnstone and Dr Karen Scott
Research funded by Tenovus Scotland, NHS Grampian Research and Endowments Fund, the Scottish Government as part of the Strategic Research Programme and INSPIRE Funding from the Academy of Medical Sciences.