Alzheimer's disease and gut microbiota modifications: The long way between preclinical studies and clinical evidence

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Abstract

Recent studies have suggested the role of an infectious component in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In light of this, research has focused on some bacteria constituting the intestinal microbial flora which can produce amyloid. Once generated, the latter hypothetically triggers a systemic inflammatory response which compromises complex brain functions, such as learning and memory. Clinical studies have shown that, in cognitively impaired elderly patients with brain amyloidosis, there is lower abundance in the gut of E. rectale and B. fragilis, two bacterial species which have an anti-inflammatory activity, versus a greater amount of pro-inflammatory genera such as Escherichia/Shigella. According to these findings, some clinical studies have demonstrated that supplementation with Lactobacilli- and Bifidobacteria- based probiotics has improved cognitive, sensory and emotional functions in subjects with AD. Moreover, certain herbal products, in particular dietetic polyphenols, have proved capable of restoring dysbiosis and, therefore, their prebiotic role could be effective in counteracting the onset of AD regardless of their activity of free radical scavenging or enhancement of the cell stress response. One of the recent greatest novelties in the field of neurodegenerative diseases is the chance to prevent or slow down AD progression with agents, such as probiotics and prebiotics, acting outside the central nervous system.

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