A2: Microbes in the News

Germs in Your Gut Are Talking to Your Brain. Scientists Want to Know What They’re Saying.

Jan. 29th, 2019 By Carl Zimmer

LINK: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/health/microbiome-brain-behavior-dementia.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FBacteria&action=click&contentCollection=science&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection

Summary: Over the last few years several studies have linked particular microbes in mice intestine to traits in brain health and behavior. Some of these correlations have also been observed in humans. Alzheimer’s in mice have been found to be linked to the amount of bacteria living in the mouse gut. By putting mice on antibiotics an observable decrease of protein formation in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s was seen and transplanting the bacteria back into the mice caused the protein build up to resume. The article also talks bout other neuro problems that could be caused by certain bacteria or a lack there of. Introducing microorganisms from a depressed human into a normal mouse caused it to give up sooner in a particular experiment.

Connection: Microorganisms can release particular compounds as a result of metabolism dependent on their species and the boime they are in. Some of the compounds produced by microorganisms can be toxic, so it could be possible for some of the microorganism’s byproducts to have other impacts on mammals. There are many examples of mammalian microbes being dependent on particular microorganisms.

Critical Analysis: The articles comes off as very credible and offers sources throughout. it does not seem unreasonable for the mammalian microbiome to have an impact on the brain. By extension the particular microbes living within a mammal could also have an impact on brain chemistry through the gut’s microbiome and its interplay with other systems.k

Question: What would be some creative ways to pinpoint which specific microbe is responsible for producing an affect on a mammalian brain?


1 Comment for “A2: Microbes in the News”



This is a very interesting article. I am very interested in the implications of these microbes in Alzheimer’s Disease, and how the chemical exchange through the vagus nerve occurs. I think however, that the identification of these various microbes and their effects on the human brain are going to take some time. Especially since they will be difficult to isolate and culture. The article touched on this, in that when they do a fecal culture and a fecal transplant they are potentially transplanting hundreds of thousands of microbes, and they don’t know exactly which one is causing the physiological changes.

As per your question on how we could pinpoint microbial responsibility for formation of changes in the brain: could one potentially utilize the mini-brains which have been developed by John’s Hopkins to assess the effects of the chemicals produced by the microbes? Such as culturing the mini brains and the microbes on the same plate and monitoring changes in the neural network. Of course one would have to first be able to identify the microbes and if they are able to be cultured alongside the mini brains.

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