Statement about research linking MND and the gut microbiome
We are aware of research that has been published in the scientific journal ‘Nature’ about a link between the gut microbiome and motor neurone disease (MND).
The paper suggests there might be a connection between MND and the microbiome, the microbes that live in our guts. There is increasing evidence that the bacteria in the gut can play a role in a wide range of neurological conditions, though the potential link with MND has not been as widely studied as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. MND is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors and these new findings, support the theory that microbiome might play a role in developing MND.
This adds to an emerging, but still fuzzy, picture of a different metabolism that seems to occur in people with MND, with diet and exercise also being studied as potential factors associated with the disease.
Specifically, this study found changes in the microbiome of SOD1 MND mice before symptoms of motor neuron dysfunction appeared and investigated how specific microbes might affect the onset and progression of the disease in the mice. They found that certain bacterial species were associated with different disease progression.
The authors also reported findings of a small study with 37 people with MND which showed altered composition of their microbiome when compared to healthy participants, and they suggested a possible metabolic mechanism that might be involved. However, small ‘snapshot-based’ human studies such as this one must be treated with caution as the data is only preliminary. The next step in establishing the human disease relevance is to carry out a larger longitudinal study in people with MND, examining changes in gut bacteria over time to see if changes are associated with speed of progression.