Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Akbari, E., Asemi, Z., Kakhaki, R. D., Bahmani, F., Kouchaki, E., Tamtaji, O. R., & Salami, M.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive functions such as memory, language and problem solving skills. It is caused by damaged or destroyed nerve cells in parts of the brain involved in cognitive function and eventually affects other parts of the brain as well, including those that enable a person to carry out basic bodily functions such as walking and swallowing [1]. Although several risk factors have been identified that may a role in the development of AD, the precise biological changes that cause AD are yet to be discovered. The gut microbiota has been shown to influence brain function and cognitive behavior and might play a role in the development of AD [2,3]. Probiotics can change the gut microbiota composition and therefore may affect cognitive function. A recent clinical study now investigated the effect of probiotic supplementation on cognitive function (4). This randomized, double-blind, and controlled clinical trial was conducted among 60 AD patients and showed that probiotics have a beneficial effect on the cognitive functioning of AD patients. The patients were randomly divided into two groups treating with either regular milk (control group) or probiotic milk containing 4 bacterial species (the probiotic group) for 12 weeks. The cognitive abnormalities were determined with the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) before and after the treatment. MMSE is widely used assessment tool to determine (the severity of) cognitive impairment. The 12-week intervention resulted in an improved MMSE score in the probiotic group with an average increase of 27.9%. In contrast, the MMSE score of the control group MMSE declined on average with 5.03%. The difference between the groups was statistically significant (p <0.001). This shows that probiotics have a beneficial effect on the cognitive ability of Alzheimer's patients. This may offer new therapeutic options for treating Alzheimer's.

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References

1. Alzheimer's Association. (2016). 2016 Alzheimer's disease facts and figures. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 12(4), 459-509.
2. Collins, S. M., Surette, M., & Bercik, P. (2012). The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the brain. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 10(11), 735-742.
3. Hill, J. M., Bhattacharjee, S., Pogue, A. I., & Lukiw, W. J. (2014). The gastrointestinal tract microbiome and potential link to Alzheimer’s disease. Frontiers in neurology, 5, 43.
4. Akbari, E., Asemi, Z., Kakhaki, R. D., Bahmani, F., Kouchaki, E., Tamtaji, O. R., & Salami, M. (2016). Effect of probiotic supplementation on cognitive function and metabolic status in Alzheimer's disease: a randomized, double-blind and controlled trial. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience