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Researchers studied both healthy mice and those with Alzheimer's disease. They placed both gut bacteria from healthy and diseased mice into rodents with no bacteria.
The mice that received bacteria from diseased rodents “developed more beta-amyloid plaques in the brain” compared to the mice that had received bacteria from healthy mice.
Beta-amyloid plaques build up between the nerve cells in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The presence of the plaques are one of the main signs of the disease.
“It was striking that the mice which completely lacked bacteria developed much less plaque in the brain,” study researcher Frida Fak Hallenius said.
“Our study is unique as it shows a direct causal link between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease.”
Fak Hallenius with the Food for Health Science Center will now begin studying ways to prevent the disease and delay its onset.
“We consider this to be a major breakthrough as we used to only be able to give symptom-relieving antiretroviral drugs,” she said.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. As many as 5 million people were living with the disease in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study included researchers from Switzerland, Germany and Belgium.
The study results were published in the online journal Scientific Reports.