The communication between the gut bacteria and the neurologic function, referred to as the gut-brain axis is a novel area of research that has shown us it can regulate different aspects of our health, including brain health through immunologic, metabolic, and endocrine pathways.
Different studies have shown associations between the gut microbial measures and neurological outcomes, including cognitive function and dementia, but the mechanisms have not been fully established.
New Study: Association of the Gut Microbiota With Cognitive Function in Midlife
In a recently published study, researchers have conducted cognitive testing and analyzed stool samples of 597 participants and found that beta-diversity (between-person), a measure of gut microbial community composition, was significantly associated with cognitive scores. The study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
The researchers analyzed data from the prospective Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) cohort in 4 US metropolitan centers between 2015 and 2016. Stool samples were analyzed from 597 participants, and cognitive status was assessed using 6 different clinic-administered tests.
Two bacteria genera showed a greater positive association with performance on at least one of the cognitive tests performed, which were Barnesiella and Lachnospiracea, while Sutterella was negatively associated. Barsiella is involved in carbohydrate fermentation, competitive inhibition of pathogenic bacteria, and immunoregulation and it has been shown to be associated with lower levels of active colitis in IL-10 −/− mice. IL-10 is a cytokine, which can be deficient in mice leading to development of spontaneous colitis early in life. This model is used for the study of human inflammatory bowel diseases.
The study shows us once again the importance of the gut microbiota, not only in the gastrointestinal tract, but how it can also influence our cognitive function and neurological system.
Meyer K, et al. Association of the Gut Microbiota With Cognitive Function in Midlife. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(2):e2143941b. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.43941
Gunasekera, D.C., Ma, J., Vacharathit, V. et al. The development of colitis in Il10−/− mice is dependent on IL-22. Mucosal Immunol 13, 493–506 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41385-019-0252-3