Molecules derived from tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey and other foods are related to the ability to limit inflammation of the brain. A new study demonstrates for the first time that diet and microbiota influence this inflammation, key in diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
US – New research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital Boston (USA) suggests that bacteria living in the gut are linked in the activity of brain cells involved in the control of inflammation and neurodegeneration.
By using preclinical models and samples from patients with multiple sclerosis, the team found evidence that dietary changes and intestinal flora can influence astrocyte cell, a type of cerebral and consequently neurodegeneration.
These results, published yesterday in the journal Nature Medicine, may be useful in the development of possible therapeutic targets for diseases related to inflammatory processes, such as multiple sclerosis.
Francisco Quintana, Spanish researcher who led the work, told SINC: “we have demonstrated for the first time that diet and intestinal bacteria collaborate to produce metabolites that travel through the circulation to the central nervous system to regulate inflammation and neurodegeneration.”
Or put another way, the food has some sort of role in the central nervous system through inflammation. “What we eat influences the ability of intestinal bacteria to produce small molecules, some of which are able to travel to the brain. This opens an unknown area so far. How the intestine controls inflammation of the brain,” he added.
According to the authors, dietary supplements and probiotics may be useful to control processes that contribute to the pathology of neurological diseases. “Our studies were initially focused on multiple sclerosis, but also have implications for other diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” said Quintana.
Turkey to limit brain inflammation
Previous research had suggested a link between the intestinal microbiome and inflammation of the brain, but until now was not known how they are related and how diet and microbial products influence this.
To explore this connection, Quintana and colleagues performed transcriptional expression analysis of astrocytes in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, by identifying a molecular pathway involved in inflammation.
Thus, they found that molecules derived from tryptophan (an amino acid found in turkey and other foods) act on this pathway, and that when these molecules are more present, the astrocytes are able to limit brain inflammation.
In fact, the team found low levels of these tryptophan molecules in blood samples from patients with multiple sclerosis. “Deficits in the intestinal flora, dietary or absorption capacity transport or bowel can lead to deficiencies that contribute to the progression of the disease,” said Quintana.
As to whether these findings reach the clinical phase, the Spanish expert is clear: “That’s always the challenge. We are now trying to develop therapeutic strategies to transform our work in therapies for multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases strategies, “he concluded.