Gut Feeling: Gut-brain axis is now a hot-topic for neuroscience research

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February 05, 2021 6:30 AM

Research is trying to find if there is a link between gut microbiome and brain-function

Some mice studies suggest microbes may have some influence on Parkinson’s disease, autism and other conditions.Some mice studies suggest microbes may have some influence on Parkinson’s disease, autism and other conditions.

The brain drives your thoughts, action, etc, but what drives it? Sure, a host of biochemical algorithms coded into your DNA, but what if you were told millions of microbes inside your body made you less, or more, prone to being “risk-hungry”, or a certain neuropathology? Scientists are trying to settle the facts on this unsettling hypothesis. The gut-brain axis, reports Nature, is now a hot-topic for neuroscience research. And, there is a growing body of evidence that could indicate microbes—specific ones rather than the entire microbiome—present in our bodies affect our neuro-biology in very specific ways. One particular experiment, as per Nature, showed that mice that lacked a microbiome behaved in a ‘less anxious’ (didn’t seek cover in an experiment involving a maze with walled and open routes) manner than those that had a significant presence of microbes in their gut.

Some mice studies suggest microbes may have some influence on Parkinson’s disease, autism and other conditions. So, there is now considerable interest in checking if tweaking the gut microbiome could be a line of therapy for some conditions. For instance, a particular strain of Escherichia coli has been shown to provide a template for mis-folding of a certain group of proteins, which is linked to onset of Parkinson’s. And, it is not as if bacteria only play a villainous role—in ALS, a neurodegenerative disorder, there are certain species that may be accelerating the decline while there are some that could be slowing down disease progression, and then, there are those that could be playing a role in precipitating the disease. To that end, growing corporate interest in ‘microbe therapy’ could change neuro-medicine of the future.

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