Summary: Probiotics may play an important role in preventing cognitive decline associated with aging. By giving participants with mild cognitive impairment the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for three months, researchers observed improved cognitive performance and gut microbiome modifications.
The study suggests that altering the gut microbiome may be a strategic approach to enhancing cognitive function in individuals with mild cognitive impairment. If replicated, these findings could revolutionize preventive strategies in cognitive health using approaches focused on the gut microbiome.
- Participants with mild cognitive impairment who were given the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG probiotic over three months showed improved cognitive scores.
- The study found an increased presence of Prevotella microbes in people with mild cognitive impairment. Decreased abundance of Prevotella following probiotic ingestion is associated with cognitive improvement.
- The research opens new possibilities for gut microbiome-targeted strategies to support cognitive health and prevent cognitive decline.
Source: American Society for Nutrition
Findings from a new study suggest that taking probiotics may help prevent the decline in memory and thinking that accompanies aging.
This research may lead to new, less invasive treatments that influence the gut microbiome to mitigate cognitive decline in the aging population.
The researchers found that study participants with mild cognitive impairment who received the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) for three months, their cognitive scores increased. This cognitive improvement was linked to changes in their gut microbiome.
“The implication of this finding is very exciting that it means that modifying the gut microbiome through probiotics may be a strategy to improve cognitive performance, particularly in individuals with mild cognitive impairment,” said Michele Aljuma, a microbiology doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“This adds a new layer to our understanding of the microbiome brain-gut connection and opens new avenues for combating cognitive decline associated with aging.”
Aljuma, affiliated with King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, will present the findings at Nutrition 2023, the annual flagship meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, July 22-25 in Boston.
“Many studies focus on severe cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, but these conditions are more advanced and more difficult to reverse or treat,” Aljuma said.
“In contrast, we focused on mild cognitive impairment, which may include problems with memory, language or judgment. Interventions at this stage of cognitive impairment can slow or prevent progression to more severe forms of dementia.
The study included 169 participants between the ages of 52 and 75 who were divided into two groups depending on whether they had no neurological problems or mild cognitive impairment.
In each group, participants received either the LGG probiotic or a placebo in a three-month, double-blind, randomized clinical trial. The researchers chose the LGG probiotic because previous research had shown its beneficial effects in animal models.
To investigate the gut microbiomes of study participants, the researchers used 16S rRNA gene sequencing to identify and compare the bacteria present in stool samples. They used whole genome sequencing to gain insights into the functional roles of the identified bacteria.
Analysis revealed the presence of microorganisms of this genus Prevotella Participants with mild cognitive impairment had higher relative abundance than those without cognitive impairment.
This suggests that gut microbiome composition may serve as an early indicator of mild cognitive impairment, providing opportunities for early interventions to slow cognitive decline.
For study participants with mild cognitive impairment and receiving LGG probiotics, Prevotella Relative abundance has declined. This change coincided with improved cognitive scores, suggesting that manipulating gut microbiota can improve cognitive health in older adults.
“By identifying specific shifts in the gut microbiome associated with mild cognitive impairment, we are exploring a new frontier in preventive strategies in cognitive health,” said Aljuma. “If these findings are replicated in future studies, they suggest the possibility of using gut microbiome-targeted strategies as a new approach to support cognitive health.”
Researchers are now working to understand the specific mechanisms of how microbes like Prevotella Affects the gut to improve brain health. In particular, they are exploring how certain molecules produced by these bacteria modulate the activity of neuroprotective hormones that can cross the blood-brain barrier.
About this knowledge and aging research news
Author: Nancy Lamontagne
Source: American Society for Nutrition
Contact: Nancy Lamontagne – American Society for Nutrition
Image: Image courtesy of Neuroscience News
Original Research: The findings will be presented in NUTRITION 2023