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Faecal transplants could one day be used as a cognitive restoration therapy in the elderly, according to new research from the University of East Anglia, the University of Florence and the Quadram Institute.
A new study published today shows how fecal transplants from older to younger mice altered their gut microbiome, which in turn affected their spatial learning and memory.
The research team hopes that if the procedure is reversed, one day a fecal transplant can be used to combat cognitive decline in the elderly.
Dr. David Vauzour of the UEA’s Norwich Medical School said: “Aging is an inevitable process that begins immediately after birth and ultimately leads to physical health problems, as well as deterioration in mental well-being and cognitive function.
“Research has shown that the aging process may be linked to age-related changes in our gut microbiota. Recently, the existence of two-way communication between the gut and the brain – known as the ‘gut-brain axis’ – has emerged as a key player in shaping it on aspects of behavior and cognitive function. We wanted to find out whether the transmission of intestinal microbes from older to younger mice could affect parts of the central nervous system associated with aging. “
The research team performed fecal transplants from older adult mice to younger adult mice, and then examined the young adults for markers such as anxiety, exploratory behavior, and memory.
After the transplant, the team found significant differences in the microbial profiles of the young mice.
While the young adults showed no significant changes in the markers for fear, exploratory behavior or physical activity, they showed impaired spatial learning and memory, as measured in a labyrinth test.
These changes were accompanied by changes in the expression of proteins associated with synaptic plasticity and neurotransmission, as well as changes in the cells in the hippocampal part of your brain that are responsible for learning and memory.
Dr. Vauzour said, “Our research shows that a fecal transplant from an old donor to a young recipient causes an age-related shift in the composition of gut microbiota. The procedure had an impact on the expression of proteins involved in key functions of the gut hippocampus – an important one Part of the brain that plays an important role in a variety of functions, including memory, learning, but also spatial navigation and emotional behavior and mood.In short, the young mice began to function like older mice in terms of their functions behave cognitive function. “
Prof. Claudio Nicoletti of the University of Florence, Italy, said: “While it remains to be seen whether a transplant from very young donors can restore cognitive function in older recipients, the results show that age-related shifts in the gut microbiome can alter components of the central nervous system.” This work underscores the importance of the gut-brain axis in aging and provides a strong rationale for developing therapies that aim to restore a young microbiota in order to improve cognitive functions and the quality of life of older people, he added.
“Manipulating the microbiome is increasingly seen as a means of improving or maintaining human health, and these results are an exciting indication of its potential to help us age healthily,” said Prof. Arjan Narbad of the Quadram Institute.
“We have established an FMT service at Norwich Research Park to treat severe intestinal infections and we are now looking to test its effectiveness in combating a range of age-related diseases, including cognitive decline, in humans.”
The research was led by a team at UEA and the University of Florence in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Milan, Earlham Institute, University of Siena, Quadram Institute and Nottingham Trent University.
It was funded by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, the University of Florence and the Medical Research Council.
“Transplantation of fecal microbiota from aged donor mice affects spatial learning and memory through the modulation of proteins related to synaptic plasticity of the hippocampus and neurotransmission in young recipients,” was published in the journal Microbiome.
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Alfonsina D’Amato et al. Transplantation of fecal microbiota from aged donor mice affects spatial learning and memory by modulating synaptic plasticity and neurotransmission related to the hippocampus in young recipients, Microbiome (2020). DOI: 10.1186 / s40168-020-00914-w Provided by the University of East Anglia
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