Past research has shown that gut disorders are linked with a higher risk of depression and anxiety. Scientists suspect this may be due to irritation in the gastrointestinal system sending signals to the central nervous system that lead to mood changes. Now, a new study says gut issues may also predispose you to Alzheimer’s, and that could be linked with shared genes.
Researchers at Edith Cowan University in Australia investigated the link between gastrointestinal tract disorders and Alzheimer’s, building on prior research that had established a possible connection. The findings, published in the journal Communications Biology, found a potential reason behind the link: shared genetics between those with those with gut disorders and those with Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Emmanuel Adewuyi, lead researcher and post doctoral research fellow at Edith Cowan, says, “The study provides a novel insight into the genetics behind the observed co-occurrence of AD and gut disorders. This improves our understanding of the causes of these conditions and identifies new targets to investigate to potentially detect the disease earlier and develop new treatments for both types of conditions.”
The study, which involved large sets of genetic data from Alzheimer’s and studies on gut disorders with hundreds of thousands of people, didn’t determine whether one caused the other or vice versa. However, the researchers say the findings help further the understanding of how two important parts of the body can impact each other.
Study supervisor, Professor Simon Laws, explains, “These findings provide further evidence to support the concept of the ‘gut-brain’ axis, a two-way link between the brain’s cognitive and emotional centers, and the functioning of the intestines.”
The team says this means that diet could be a prevention and treatment tool for Alzheimer’s.
The study also found that abnormal cholesterol levels were predictive of Alzheimer’s and gut disorders, with Dr. Adewuyi saying that evidence shows high cholesterol can transfer into the central nervous system and impact cholesterol metabolism in the brain. However, further research is needed to confirm this link and if cholesterol-lowering medications could help.
Studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Research UK 2022 Conference also found links between gut health and Alzheimer’s, though the research had not yet been peer-reviewed.Whizzco