Purpose of Review
To review recent updates in our understanding of the microbiome and its relationship to neurodegenerative disease.
Recognition of the microbiome’s role in health and disease continues to expand. Recent techniques have focused on delineating the function and metabolism of resident organisms, which may correlate more directly with human physiology than identification of species. The role of the microbiome may be of particular importance in certain neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.
The microbiome influences brain function and may play a role in neurodegenerative disease. Potential mechanisms include immunologic activation and promotion/attenuation of inflammation, as well as direct effects on induction and/or exacerbation of protein aggregation. The microbiome also has increasingly well-documented effects on the metabolism of therapeutic medications. Future studies will need to work through complex methodologic issues in order to identify which changes are truly disease-specific. Nevertheless, manipulation of the microbiome may soon improve our ability to treat neurodegenerative disease.
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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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Conflict of Interest
Caroline Tanner reports personal fees from Adamas, Neurocrine, Photopharmics, Alexza, and 23andMe and fees from Voyager, Intec, and Biotie for DMC service. Samuel Goldman declares no conflict of interest. Ethan Brown reports personal fees from Abbvie, Inc., for serving on the Fellowship Advisory Board, outside the submitted work.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Neurology of Aging
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Brown, E.G., Tanner, C.M. & Goldman, S.M. The Microbiome in Neurodegenerative Disease. Curr Geri Rep 7, 81–91 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13670-018-0240-6
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Gut-brain axis