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Fundamental research

27 - 12 - 2017

A new explanation for brain diseases?

Researchers have shown in mice the effect of the gut microbiota on the properties of microglia, a group of cells related to many diseases of the brain.


Microglia, resident immune cells, are the first line of defense of the brain. They are involved in the development and normal function of the brain, as well as in synaptic connections.


Changes in microglia are associated with major brain diseases such as autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.


Researchers * wanted to know if the gut microbiota could influence the properties of microglia. To do so, they used mice whose microbiota they modified.


They discovered the following information:

• the maternal microbiota influences the properties of the offspring’s microglia;

• dysfunctions of the microbiota have an impact on the microglia which varies according to the moment when they appear and according to the sex of the individual.



This information shows a link between microglia and the maternal microbiota with a marked sex-linked effect. However, as recalled by the Inserm in its release "this surprising sexual dimorphism echoes to the fact that the occurrence of many neurodevelopmental pathologies is higher in men, while autoimmune diseases are more prevalent in women. "


Research is ongoing toward perhaps a new understanding of brain diseases.


* Inserm, ENS in France and A * STAR in Singapore