Research Finds A Link Between The Gut & Preclinical Alzheimer’s

Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death1 and one of the major causes of disability globally among older people, with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) making up 60 to 70% of dementia cases1.

There is currently no cure for AD. But the earlier you can spot signs of it, the better—and new insights on the gut microbiome’s relationship to dementia may help with early detection.

A recent study published in Science Translational Medicine2 found that the gut microbiomes of symptomatic patients with Alzheimer’s differed from those of cognitively healthy control individuals who ate a similar diet.

For the cross-sectional study, researchers took gut microbiome samples from 164 individuals—49 of whom had biomarker evidence of early, preclinical Alzheimer’s. Those with preclinical AD were more likely to have some specific gut bacteria than those who did not have preclinical AD.

Knowing these unique microbiome features could eventually help improve the accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of AD testing, the researchers note. However, they have not concluded a causal relationship quite yet. Though they found a correlation between these microbiome features and preclinical AD, they can’t say for sure whether these microbiome changes cause dementia or the other way around. 

All of this to say: This area of dementia research is still in its early stages, so more studies are needed. Nevertheless, this finding could have a profound impact on preclinical dementia treatment. The method of pulling a stool sample is much more accessible and affordable than many of the traditional methods such as spinal taps and brain scans. 

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