Prebiotic fibre could boost brain function

Modifying our microbiome with prebiotic fibre could help lower levels of brain inflammation and boost brain function during ageing, according to new research in mice.

The first of its kind study, published in Nature’s Molecular Psychiatry, notes that there is growing evidence that microbes in the gut can play an important role in regulating brain functions –particularly emotional processing and behavior.

The community of microbes in the gut changes with ageing. Many studies in ageing focus on very old animals and this may be too late to reverse the age-associated changes. We chose middle age in the hope that we could promote healthy ageing.

Findings from the new research suggest that prebiotic dietary fibres[1] could be developed as a new strategy to promote healthy ageing, by protecting brain functions and preventing the adverse effects of age-related neuroinflammation.

Research shows that a diet supplemented with prebiotics reversed microglia activation in the middle- aged mouse brain towards young adult levels. Moreover, this reversing effect was observed in a key region of the brain which regulates learning and memory, the hippocampus.

Prebiotic supplementation differentially altered the gut microbiota profile in young and middle-aged mice with changes correlating with faecal metabolites.

The data highlight a potential pathway by which targeting the gut microbiome with prebiotics can modulate the peripheral immune response and alter neuroinflammation in middle age.

The research team concluded that the new data in mice highlights a novel strategy for potentially fighting age-related neuroinflammatory conditions and cognitive decline[2]

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  1. Prebiotics are the non-digestible fibres that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
  2. Mid-life microbiota crises: middle age is associated with pervasive neuroimmune alterations that are reversed by targeting the gut microbiome



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