Connection between gut and brain– Various genres of medical treatments worldwide have agreed upon a fact that there exists a connection between gut and brain. And there have been various studies conducted that talk about the bacteria residing in our guts affecting our neurological systems. Thus, researchers at MIT have engineered an “organs-on-a-chip” model to simulate functions of our brain, colon, and liver. Now, an organ-on-chip (OOC) model is extremely helpful in studying diseases and testing a variety of disease-related drugs.
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Influence of microbes
MIT researchers established the effect of microbial activities on healthy as well as diseased brain tissues through their study. Now microbes produce short-chain fatty acids in our gut, which later circulate in the entire body including the brain via the bloodstream. These short-chain fatty acids interact differently with different healthy and disordered brain cells. Studies establish that SCFAs although are salubrious for humans but can still have adverse effects on brain cells under special circumstances.
Martin Trapecar, Linda Griffith, Rudolf Jaenisch are co-researchers and authors of the study. And their study of the connection between gut and brain has been extensively covered in the journal Science Advances.
Microphysiological systems, SFAs, and their effects
Now a microphysiological system aka Organ-on-Chips, cultures different organ tissues to and consists of microfluidic channels. These systems, many a time have emerged victorious over animal models in providing better and accurate disease-related information. Now SFAs that include butyrate, propionate, and acetate, are largely contained in our food, and contribute towards nearly 10 percent of our total consumable energy. But, under conditions out of the normal, they behave haywire and might aggravate autoimmune conditions including inflammation in ulcerative colitis. To establish the connection between gut and brain, researchers in their organ-on-chip study used some brain and autoimmune cells. They studied their Intra and intercommunication with other types of cells and organs including our digestive tract. The enteric nervous system also called the second brain provides the required communication channel. Or the communication happens when hormones, nutrients, and other things are transported through the blood.
Mice experiment for SCFA and Parkinson’s connection
Sarkis Mazmanian is a microbiology professor at Caltech and has worked towards finding the relation between short-chain fatty acids and the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease in humans. He conducted a few experiments with mice and found that bacteria in the mouse’s gut fed on some undigested fiber and released some SCFAs. Now these SCFAs, contrary to their health-giving nature, worsened Parkinson’s disease and accelerated its progression. On the contrary, Mazmanian also observed that the mice that were subjected to a bacteria-free environment had feeble chances of disease development. These findings also throw some light on the connection between gut and brain even for humans.
Connection between gut and brain-Research taken ahead
Peer testing to further dig these findings was imperative for researchers Griffith and Trapecar to come to even more concrete conclusions. They took help from Jaenisch who had an exhaustive experience in transforming fibroblast cells of a Parkinson’s patient into pluripotent stem cells. Together their study not only established certain new facts but also corroborated the established connection between gut and brain. And yet again they found that SCFAs proved to be a boon for healthy cells but the Parkinson’s diseased cells, they weren’t friendly at all. The study further established that SFAs can also affect individuals with other neurodegenerative diseases that are affected by lipid metabolism. Thus, the team of researchers is progressively getting human cells onboard to conduct more extensive experiments. And to their delight, they have successfully started to get some good awareness about the connection between gut and brain in the human context.