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How is Alzheimer’s Linked to Gut Health?

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Changes in gut bacteria were linked with very early Alzheimer's disease, cross-sectional data showed.

How is Alzheimer’s linked to gut health? Beck, Lenox & Stolzer Estate Planning and Elder Law learned about this research conducted right here in St. Louis and wanted to share it with you. Gut microbial profiles of cognitively normal people with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease were distinct from those of individuals without preclinical Alzheimer’s, reported Beau Ances, MD, PhD, and Gautam Dantas, PhD, both of Washington University School of Medicine and co-authors.

MedPage Today’s recent article entitled, “Early Alzheimer’s Linked to Gut Microbiome Changes,” explains that change in gut microbiome composition correlated with amyloid-beta and tau pathological biomarkers but not with markers of neurodegeneration. The researchers said in Science Translational Medicine that while previous studies have reported gut microbial alterations in people with symptomatic Alzheimer’s, this study showed changes in preclinical disease.

“This was surprising to us as it suggests there are already changes within the gut very early on in the disease process, which could have important implications for biomarker development and potential therapies,” he told MedPage Today.

If the gut affected the brain or the brain affected the gut wasn’t clear. The study didn’t look at what led to the changes.

“The observed increase with certain species within the gut could lead to breakdown in the gut epithelium with subsequent inflammation,” he pointed out. “This inflammation may be deleterious,” he added. “There is a growing body of evidence that suggests it’s not only the presence of amyloid and tau, but also inflammation, that may lead to the changes in the brain.”

Ances and colleagues studied a Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) cohort of 164 cognitively normal individuals with and without preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. Participants were 68 to 94 years old, and 45% were male. The participants had PET and MRI imaging, a lumbar puncture to gather cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples, stool sampling, and clinical and cognitive tests, including Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) evaluations.

Preclinical Alzheimer’s was defined as a CDR score of 0 (cognitively normal) and amyloid positivity based on PET or CSF. Based on these criteria, 115 participants were classified as healthy, and 49 were classified as having preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.

Stool samples showed both global and specific differences in the gut microbiome. Species were most associated with preclinical Alzheimer’s status. Those with preclinical Alzheimer’s also had more active microbial pathways involved in the degradation of arginine and ornithine. When tested on a subset of 65 participants, the inclusion of specific microbiome features improved the accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of a machine-learning model for predicting preclinical Alzheimer’s status.

This information on how Alzheimer’s is linked to gut health is disturbing, but very interesting. We all know managing our weight, our diets and living an active lifestyle helps our bodies balance the hormones, chemicals and amount of inflammation that help and hurt us. We need to put down the processed, sugary foods, and get back to nature in every respect. Life is too precious to continue habits that are hurting us.

Reference: MedPage Today (June 14, 2023) “Early Alzheimer’s Linked to Gut Microbiome Changes”

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