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2017 Grants - Kaur
Probiotic Effects on Progression of Alzheimer's Disease
Harpreet Kaur, Ph.D.
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
2017 Alzheimer's Association Research Fellowship (AARF)
Can promoting healthy bacteria in the intestines help prevent or slow Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease is characterized primarily by brain changes, such as the clumping of harmful beta-amyloid and tau protein. Recent studies, however, have found that the disease may also be linked to changes in the bacteria of the intestine (also known as gut microbiota). Gut bacteria helps control how the body breaks down substances, and alterations in this system have been shown to affect brain chemistry in ways that either promote or reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.
In preliminary research, Harpreet Kaur, Ph.D., and colleagues examined the gut bacteria of mice genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer's-like brain changes. They found that the composition of these bacteria were dramatically different from that seen in healthy mice, further suggesting a role for gut bacteria in this brain disease.
For their current grant, Dr. Kaur and her team will conduct a larger study of bacteria in Alzheimer's-like mice. They will feed the mice a probiotic nutritional supplement (called VSL#3) that can strengthen the health of these bacteria. They will then determine whether their treatment altered the rodents' bacterial composition and reduced or slowed the progression of brain cell damage. The researchers hypothesize that their treatment will help eliminate disease-promoting bacteria in the intestines. It may also improve the rodents' memory and reduce such dementia-related brain features as inflammation and beta-amyloid clumping.
The results of this work will lead to a better understanding of how changes in the bacteria of the gut may affect the disease process in the brain. They may also identify novel ways of assessing Alzheimer's disease risk and, through the use of probiotic drugs, find a cost-effective method for preventing or treating dementia.