Gut Microbiome May Be Key for Neurological Health, Therapy: An Interview
In a recent interview, Dr. David Perlmutter discussed new and exciting gut microbiome theories that could change the way the medical community looks at human health in general and neurological diseases, such as ALS, in particular. The new perspectives could lead to therapies focused on the root of the problem, instead of symptoms; and point to discoveries regarding the elusive causes of neurodegenerative conditions.
The interview, “The Role of Microbiome Diversity in Brain Health and Inflammation,” was published on the Alternative and Complementary Therapies website and is available free until August 8.
Through the interview, Perlmutter highlights the unexpected role of the gut microbiome in a broad range of human health, physiology, and pathology aspects. The neurologist says recent evidence challenges long-held beliefs about diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS], autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and depression.
Focusing on the ALS, Dr Perlmutter referred to clinical studies that are demonstrating that elevated lipopolysaccharide (LPS) with increased levels correlates with the disease. LPS cover some bacteria in the gut and are known to be potent inflammatory compounds. LPS is usually measured by itself or indirectly through the measurement of antibodies, which work as markers for circulating LPS levels. Elevated serum LPS levels suggests that the gut is permeable to this compound, allowing it into systemic circulation.
“Finding dramatic elevations of LPS in ALS is, for the very first time, taking our focus off the brain and redirecting it toward the gut, specifically toward the one-cell-thick gut lining, the epithelium. We need to look at all the factors that threaten the epithelial integrity,” Perlmutter said.
A researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, recently called for ALS patients who are willing to participate in a research study that would genetically analyze their microbiomes. The new research developments lead Perlmutter to hypothesize that in 5 years, we may be discussing fecal transplant procedures, in which microbiomes are replaced as a treatment for ALS.
Perlmutter further discussed other diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s, that point to a change of focus from the brain to the gut.
“It is possible that the reason we have not yet found an answer for Alzheimer’s disease, for ALS, for the root cause of multiple sclerosis [MS], for Parkinson’s, or for autism, is that we have been looking in the wrong place,” Perlmutter said.