Gut Microbiome Alterations in Neurocognitive Conditions

The human microbiome refers to the trillions of diverse microbial organisms living inside our bodies, primarily in the digestive tract. These gut microbes have important roles in performing key functions that contribute to human health. Studies have shown that changes in the microbial composition and diversity (also known as “dysbiosis”) in the gut are linked to the development of gastrointestinal and metabolic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, diabetes, and insulin resistance.

Dysbiosis of the gut has also been associated with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. A specific study investigates the role of gut microbiome diversity in correlation to the development of dementia in patients with the neurodegenerative disease, Alzheimer’s (AD). The mechanism in which the gut influences the development of neuropathology is still ambiguous, but there is considerable evidence to support the connection between the gut microbiota and the central nervous system – often referred to as the gut-brain axis. This study suggests that the changes in the brain leading to the development of dementia could be due to alterations in the gut microbes in AD patients.

The results showed a decrease in microbial diversity with a distinct composition compared to individuals without AD. More specifically, there was a decrease in Firmicutes (similar in individuals with diabetes & obesity), increase in Bacteroidetes (detected in type II diabetes and Parkinson’s disease patients), and a decrease in Actinobacteria / Bifidobacterium (bacteria known to be beneficial due to anti-inflammatory properties and relation to lower intestinal permeability). These result patterns correspond to microbiome alterations in other diseases, which include IBD, Parkinson’s, obesity, and diabetes. These microorganisms and many other species associated with gut conditions, infections, lifestyle/diet can be identified and sequenced through the microbiome test, uBiome.

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Author Fiona Miao Patient Care Coordinator

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