Gut microbes: a potential predictor for Alzheimer’s disease


Researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) are investigating the role of gut microbes in predicting Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a global health concern recognised by the World Health Organization.

In Australia, AD affects one in ten people over 65 and three in ten over 85. It’s the second leading cause of death nationwide and is projected to become the leading cause in the coming years.

Young-onset dementia cases are also on the rise, with an estimated 29,000 affected individuals in 2024 and a projected increase to over 41,000 by 2054, spanning ages 30 to 50.

Globally, AD and dementia incur an annual cost of US$605 billion, expected to more than double by 2030. Despite these figures, there is currently no effective treatment for AD.

Dr Binosha Fernando, leading the ECU study, suggests that the gut microbiota-brain axis could provide valuable insights into early diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders like depression and AD.

The human gut microbiota consists of bacteria, fungi, archaea, viruses and protozoans, residing symbiotically within the gastrointestinal tract. Imbalances in these microbes are linked to various diseases, including AD.

Dr Fernando highlights gut dysbiosis as a significant factor in AD pathology, offering a non-invasive diagnostic and potential treatment avenue. The complex relationship between gut microbes and AD involves abnormalities in key processes like amyloid-beta, tau phosphorylation, and neuroinflammation.

“Ongoing research endeavours are dedicated to unravelling these mechanisms, promising valuable insights into the nuanced contributions of gut microbiota and dietary influences on cognition, dementia, and AD,” Dr Fernando said.

Dr Fernando is currently collecting faecal samples from cohorts in The Western Australia Memory Study and The Australian Imaging Biomarkers and Lifestyle Study to further explore this connection.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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