The microbiome influences brain development
Numerous scientific studies have shown that gut bacteria can have a tremendous impact on human health. Researchers from Austria now report that these bacteria also affect brain development.
Billions of bacteria live in the human gut. These not only have an effect on digestion, but also on our health. Gut bacteria are an important part of the immune system and are necessary for the absorption of certain nutrients. It can also affect brain development, according to a new study.
Starting points for early treatment
As in the present Message The University of Vienna explains that extremely premature babies are at high risk of brain damage.
Researchers from the University of Vienna and the Medical University (MedUni) in Vienna have now found starting points for early treatment of such damage outside the brain: Bacteria in the intestines of premature babies play a major role in this.
Scientists have found that GI overgrowth with Klebsiella bacteria is associated with an increased incidence of certain immune cells and the development of neurological damage in premature infants.
The results of the study were published in the journalhost cell and microbeChest.
The gut, the immune system, the brain hub
The early development of the gut, brain, and immune system are closely related. Here researchers talk about the gut, immune system, and brain axis. The bacteria in the gut cooperate with the immune system, which monitors the gut microbiome and develops appropriate reactions to it. The intestines come into contact with the brain via the vagus nerve, but also via the immune system.
“We investigated the role this axis plays in the brain development of very premature infants,” explains the study’s first author, David Seke. “The gut microbiome — the bioaccumulation of hundreds of species of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microbes in the gut — is balanced in healthy people,” says the microbiologist and immunologist.
“Especially in premature babies, whose immune system and microbiome have not been able to fully develop, shifts are likely to occur here, which can also have negative effects on the brain,” says the scientist.
Avoid brain damage
says David Berry, a microbiologist and head of the research group at the Center for Microbiology and Ecosystem Sciences at the University of Vienna, and head of the Shared Microbiome Facility – a scientific association between the University of Vienna and Midoni Vienna.
“It is now important that such patterns appear more often before changes in the brain. This opens a critical time window in which brain damage in very premature infants can be avoided or deterioration prevented.”
Identify vital signs
The starting point for developing appropriate treatments are the biomarkers that the multidisciplinary research team has been able to identify.
Lukas Wisgrill, specialist in neonatology at the Department of Neonatalogy, Pediatric Intensive Care Medicine and Neuropediatrics at the Children’s University Hospital MedUni Vienna explains.
“We’ve been able to track these patterns because for the first time we’ve done in-depth research in a very specific group of newborns about how the gut microbiome, the immune system and the brain develop and how they interact,” he adds.
According to the information, the study followed a total of 60 extremely premature babies born before the 28th week of pregnancy and weighing less than one kilogram for several weeks, and sometimes months.
Using the latest methods, the researchers analyzed the microbiome, immune cells, brain wave measurements (such as aEEG) and MRI images of the children’s brains.
Another research project
As the announcement says, further surveys will be linked here on two levels: the study, which was implemented as a joint inter-university pool project under the joint supervision of Angelika Berger (Comprehensive Pediatric Center, MedUni Vienna) and David Berry (University Vienna), is the starting point for the project My research looks at the microbiome and its importance to the neurological development of premature babies in an accessible manner.
In addition, the scientists wish to continue to support children in the preliminary study. “It is only possible to see how children’s motor and cognitive abilities develop over the course of several years,” says Angelica Berger.
“We would like to better understand how this very early development of the gut-immune system axis affects the brain in the long term.”
The project’s most important collaboration partners are already in place: “The parents of the children supported us in the study with great interest and openness,” says David Seke. “In the end, that was the only reason we were able to gain these important insights. We are very grateful for that.” (Advertisement)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of the specialized medical literature, clinical guidelines and current studies and has been examined by medical professionals.
- University of Vienna: Intestinal Bacteria Affect Brain Development, (Accessed: 04.09.2021), Vienna University
- David Seke, Margarita Meyer, Bella Haussmann, Petra Bjevac, Vito Giordano, Catherina Gueral, Lucas Unterazinger, Catherine Kleber, Maes Schrehoff, Kim DeBaby, Tom Van de Weele, Andreas Spitler, Gregor Kasprian, Benedict Warth, Angelica Berger, David Berry & Lukas Wisgrill: development of aberrant gut-immune and cerebral axis in premature newborns with brain damage; At: Cell Host & Microbe, (published date: 03.09.2021), host cell and microbe
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.