Mar 07 2021

New Discovery ties previously Undiscovered Brain Cell to Gut Microbes

Published by at 1:13 pm under Alzheimer’s,Dementia

New Discovery ties previously Undiscovered Brain Cell to Gut Microbes.1*

Researchers have discovered that gut microbes communicate with a newly discovered brain cell to reduce inflammation and fight off inflammatory diseases. 1*

There is new research regarding astrocytes, which are star-shaped brain cells that are key in the regulation of the development of other nerve cells in the brain. Researchers have discovered a new type of astrocyte that actually protects against inflammation and receives signals from certain gut bacteria which appear to boost its anti-inflammatory activity. As we know, inflammation plays a crucial role in the body’s immune response but becomes problematic when it becomes overactive.1*

In a previous blog, we explored research that showed that there is a connection between an imbalance in gut microbiota and the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, which is at “…the origin of neurodegenerative disorders that is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease…” When there is an abundance of astrocytes and microglia it can be associated with amyloid plaques which are responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s. (1,2)*

Astrocytes have a wide range of jobs in maintaining the health of the brain. They provide nutrients to nerve cells and they regulate the cells’ development. However, when they malfunction, they can cause inflammation and lead to the deterioration of nerve cells. Research has shown that malfunctioning astrocytes are involved in a range of neurodegenerative disorders to include not only Alzheimer’s but also Parkinson’s disease. This new research involving mice revealed a certain type of brain cell which “…combats inflammation when it receives signals from bacteria in the gut…” This study found that a previously unknown type of astrocyte actually protects against inflammation. And even more exciting is that the cell steps up its anti-inflammatory processes when it receives a molecular signal from gut bacteria.1*

Researchers are hoping this might lead to developing probiotics that can help reduce inflammation in those with neurological disorders. While performed in animals and in the early stages, scientists are hopeful this research will lead to treatments that will provide long-term benefits for humans. (1,2)*

According to Dr. Francisco Quintana, of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, MA, and senior and corresponding author of the new study, many labs during the past (to include his) have identified important roles for astrocytes in promoting neurological diseases. But this is the first known case in which astrocytes are known to prevent inflammation. Dr. Quintana believes this hasn’t been seen before because they were “…studying these cells as if they were uniform or one single cell type, but now we have the resolution to see the differences between these cells.”…”2*

The results of the study have been published in Nature and a team of researchers from Geneva and Italy has recently concurred regarding this correlation.2*

In the study, scientists used molecular tools for determining the activity of genes and the proteins they express when they discovered the new type of astrocyte. “…The astrocytes in question express two proteins called LAMP1 and TRAIL so have been labeled LAMP1+TRAIL+ astrocytes. They are found close to the meninges, which is the protective membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord. This type of astrocyte appears to limit inflammation in the brain by expressing the TRAIL protein. “…When TRAIL binds to death receptors in the membranes of immune cells that promote inflammation, this induces the cells to self-destruct…” With further investigations, they found that “…an immune signaling molecule called interferon-gamma induces LAMP1+TRAIL+ astrocytes to produce TRAIL and hence control inflammation…”2*

Immune cells, which they referred to as ‘natural killer cells’ can actually ”… destroy cancerous cells and those infected with viruses…” Additionally, they manufacture interferon-gamma. With a deeper dive, they found that “…the gut microbiome induces natural killer cells to produce interferon-gamma. Then, the activated cells find their way via the bloodstream to the meninges, where they help reduce inflammation…”2*

Every day, scientists are discovering new ways in which the microbiome plays a role in combating disease and boosting immunity.  Dr. Quintana’s lab has also identified one other type of astrocyte which is also regulated by the gut microbiome. While this is the only other one, they feel there must certainly be others.

“… “We’re lucky that we’ve been leading the charge to identify different subsets of astrocytes and the mechanisms that control them. We have a list of other populations of astrocytes, and we’re working to see how the gut flora may control them.”…”2*

Dr. Quintana and his team are examining different probiotic species in order to identify which ones could regulate the anti-inflammatory activities of astrocytes and emphasized that their work on astrocytes and inflammation remains at an early stage.

The amazing bacterial world known as the microbiome continues to reveal how very powerful it is in supporting our health. Each study and discovery opens a new door to knowledge that supports the importance of maintaining a healthy gut. As more keys to this information become available, we must do our part to take care of our own guts with a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and lots of fiber supplemented by Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™.

Healthiest wishes,





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