Mid-life microbiota crises: middle age is associated with pervasive neuroimmune alterations that are reversed by targeting the gut microbiome

Journal: Molecular Psychiatry

Published: 2019-05-16

DOI: 10.1038/s41380-019-0425-1

Affiliations: 4

Authors: 16

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Research Highlight

Prebiotics improve brain health

© SCIEPRO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

© SCIEPRO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

A nutritional supplement that helps healthy bacteria grow in the intestines can reverse age-related brain inflammation in mice. Similar dietary interventions that alter the human gut microbiome could help preserve cognitive function and promote healthy ageing in people.

Researchers at University College Cork fed mice a diet fortified with a prebiotic substance called oligofructose-enriched inulin, which supports the nourishment of beneficial bacteria throughout the colon.

After 14 weeks, the mice showed changes in their microbial gut communities. And compared to control mice fed standard chow, they experienced less stress-induced immune activation. The effect was more pronounced among middle-aged mice than among juveniles. 

In the brain, the prebiotics-fed mice also had fewer white blood cells and activated immune cells, indicating the potential of targeting the gut–brain axis to the combat age-associated neuroinflammatory impairments.

Supported content

  1. Molecular Psychiatry (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41380-019-0425-1
Institutions Share
APC Microbiome Institute, UCC, Ireland 0.56
Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC, Ireland 0.22
Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Ireland 0.13
Department of Psychiatry, UCC, Ireland 0.09

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