, Dr. Julie Stout, Monash University, Australia
Targeting the Huntington’s disease gut microbiome
Recent research in neuroscience has shown that the gut communicates with the brain via a two-way system called the gut-brain axis. Increasing evidence shows that the balance of bacteria in the gut can actually influence brain functions like sleep, mood, thinking, and memory. In Parkinson’s disease this imbalance can worsen movement symptoms. In HD, we know that gastrointestinal problems are common, and many patients experience extreme weight loss, diarrhea, and gastritis. However, most of what we know about gut bacteria in HD comes from mouse studies. This group has recently shown the first evidence of bacterial imbalance in the gut of people with HD. They now propose to carry out a large study to understand the key differences in gut bacteria between people with and without the HD gene. This foundational work will serve to determine whether there is a relationship between the complex world of microbiota in our intestines, and brain function and disease progression in people with HD, with a focus on mood and cognition. The gut may be a suitable marker of disease, and an excellent target for drug development and non-pharmaceutical interventions.