Gut microbiome may predict cognition, depression in older age

Data from 268 people participating in the Korean Biobank Innovations for chronic Cerebrovascular disease With ALZheimerโ€™s disease Study (BICWALZS) indicated that lower abundance of Bifidobacteria was associated with poor current cognitive function.

Moreover, higher levels of degradation of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a naturally-occurring amino acid and key inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, were associated with greater current depression severity, said the researchers.

โ€œThis is the first longitudinal, transdiagnostic study that investigated the current and future impacts of the gut microbiome on cognitive decline and depressive symptoms in a large sample of older adults,โ€ they wrote in Molecular Psychiatryโ€‹. โ€œAs such, it represents an essential step forward at the intersection of psychiatry, aging and the microbiome.

โ€œOur results suggest that the gut microbiome contributes to cognitive function and depressive symptoms across stages of cognitive impairment, whereby GABA-degrading microbiota species may be of particular interest.โ€

Microbiota-gut-brain axisโ€‹

The study deepens our understanding of the โ€˜gut-brain axis,โ€™ a bidirectional interaction between the GI tract and the nervous system and implicates the ability of specific strains to produce key neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin and dopamine.ย 

It examined not only current cognitive and psychiatric states but also followed 70 participants for a further two years.

The researchers reported that gut microbiota composition at the start of the study is a predictor of cognitive function and depressive symptoms two years later, noting that worse two-year cognitive function was linked to a lower relative abundance of Intestinibacterโ€‹, โ€œa hallmark of gut dysbiosis suggesting inflammation-driven cognitive decline and increased biological aging.โ€

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