Scientists have discovered that ALS, a devastating disease of motor neurons, can be associated with changes in microbes living in the gut.
Studies in mice have shown that animals reared for the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the form of the disease that struck cosmologist Stephen Hawking, improved and lived longer when they received an organism called Akkermansia muciniphila.
Among other substances, microbes eliminate a molecule called nicotinamide, which can slow down the course of motor neuron disease by improving the function of neurons that control the muscles in the brain.
The findings are preliminary and the researchers point out that much more work is needed to confirm the effect. But as the first study linking intestinal microbial cells, commonly known as microbiome, with neurodegenerative diseases, the work raises the possibility of new drugs for this disease.
For further research, the researchers analyzed intestinal microbes in ALS-inclined mice and compared them with normal mice. There were 11 strains of microorganisms that were more or less common in animals that were prone to ALS, as the disease progressed and physical symptoms increased.
Two types of bacteria: Ruminococcus torque in Parabacteroides distasonisThey promote ALS, motor vehicle neuronal diseases, and are usually fatal for humans within three to five years of diagnosis. Just Akkermansia muciniphila It seemed to improve animal symptoms.
After examining thousands of molecules produced by intestinal microbes, scientists have found that nicotinamide is potentially important. To test their effects directly, scientists used small bombs to merge animals. "When we gave it to mice prone to ALS, it significantly improved the severity of ALS in these mice," said Elinav. He also changed the expression of genes in the brain of animals and returned it to a healthier state, he added.
The researchers analyzed the microbiome of 37 ALS patients and compared results with healthy family members. They found that patients had low levels of nicotinamide in the blood. In additional trials, it was found that other ALS patients had a low level of nicotinamide in the blood and a cerebrospinal fluid that digs the brain. "It is interesting that the levels of nicotinamide were somewhat related to the motor function of these patients with ALS," said Elinav.
He also pointed out that the research, although promising, is still in an early stage. "Although these human results are interesting and can shed lightweight modulators and causes of human ALS, they are very preliminary," he said.
"These preliminary results in no way constitute any recommendation for human treatment, intervention or prevention by patients and their doctors," he added.
Brian Dickie, director of research at the Motor Neurone Disease Society, said: "In many sources, there is increasing evidence that bacteria in our gut can play an important role in many neurological conditions, although ALS has not been thoroughly studied as other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and stroke.
"These are important new findings that support the theory that some bacteria can play the role of altering the disease in ALS and that this can happen with changes in a particular metabolic pathway. This contributes to an emerging but still blurred image of a different metabolism that appears to occur in people with ALS. Diet and physical activity are also considered as possible factors associated with the disease. «
With information from: The Guardian