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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Jun 2023 - 16 Jun 2023


Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Migraine/Headache, Neuropathic Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 May 31

Int J Mol Sci




Neurodegenerative and Neurodevelopmental Diseases and the Gut-Brain Axis: The Potential of Therapeutic Targeting of the Microbiome.


Bicknell B, Liebert A, Borody T, Herkes G, McLachlan C, Kiat H


The human gut microbiome contains the largest number of bacteria in the body and has the potential to greatly influence metabolism, not only locally but also systemically. There is an established link between a healthy, balanced, and diverse microbiome and overall health. When the gut microbiome becomes unbalanced (dysbiosis) through dietary changes, medication use, lifestyle choices, environmental factors, and ageing, this has a profound effect on our health and is linked to many diseases, including lifestyle diseases, metabolic diseases, inflammatory diseases, and neurological diseases. While this link in humans is largely an association of dysbiosis with disease, in animal models, a causative link can be demonstrated. The link between the gut and the brain is particularly important in maintaining brain health, with a strong association between dysbiosis in the gut and neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases. This link suggests not only that the gut microbiota composition can be used to make an early diagnosis of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases but also that modifying the gut microbiome to influence the microbiome-gut-brain axis might present a therapeutic target for diseases that have proved intractable, with the aim of altering the trajectory of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, autism spectrum disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, among others. There is also a microbiome-gut-brain link to other potentially reversible neurological diseases, such as migraine, post-operative cognitive dysfunction, and long COVID, which might be considered models of therapy for neurodegenerative disease. The role of traditional methods in altering the microbiome, as well as newer, more novel treatments such as faecal microbiome transplants and photobiomodulation, are discussed.