Microbiome. Ageing. Genetics. GABA. Mood disorders
1. Signatures of early frailty in the gut microbime
The global population is aging. The UN predicts that 1.2 billion people will be aged over 60 years by 2025. Frailty (the physiological loss of reserve capacity and reduced resistance to stressors) is a predictor of overall health than age. Diversity in the gut microbiome has been shown to decline in the elderly and the decline correlates with frailty. In a twin study published in the journal Genome medicine, researchers now show a negative association between frailty and gut microbiota diversity, underpinned by changes in specific bacterial groups. It remains to be seen whether these relationships are causal or consequential.
2. Gut bacteria spotted eating brain chemicals for the first time
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells. Low levels of GABA have been linked to anxiety and mood disorder. Researchers believe that is crucial for calming the brain. At the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston, researchers have announced that they have discovered bacteria in our guts that depend on GABA for survival. The fact that these bacteria consume GABA could help explain why the gut microbiome seems to affect mood. Read the abstract here.
3. Genetics may determine the importance of the gut microbiome in our health
Therapies that manipulate the microbiome (including probiotics, prebiotics, antibiotics and FMT) are a source of intensive study and hold significant potential. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers show that genetics affect the outcome of antibiotics on the gut microbiome of mice, as well as on their insulin sensitivity, tissue inflammation and related metabolic functions. Assuming the same is true in humans, the research suggests that some people may be more genetically susceptible to the impact of the microbiome than others. Read more here. The research article can be found here.
On a final note, here is a great introduction to the microbiome produced by Yale University.