In recent study, mouse models of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) have been fed the bacterial product known as butyrate. From this, they have exhibited enhancement of their gut health, delayed the onset of movement symptoms and increased their length of life.
The study targeted intestinal microbiota in lessening progression of ALS symptoms which is a progressive and neurodegenerative disease. Findings from the study have reinforced on research done in the past on the significance of gut health for the brain. In addition, it gave recommendations of treatments that can be used in the improvement of gut processes and this could be of value to ALS patients.
Butyrate is a bacterial by-product naturally occurring substance that is produced by bacteria in the colon. However, it is also available in pharmacies over the counter as a supplement. It has been proven by scientific research to improve the overall well-being of the gut in multiple ways such as assisting in correction of a gut microbiome imbalance. This microbiome comprises of myriad bacteria, viruses and a variety of microbes that are hosted in the gut protecting its lining and preventing inflammation.
Speaking at a press release, Jun Sun, the study’s senior investigator and an associate professor of Gastroenterology and Hepatology from Chicago College of Medicine elaborated on the connection between the brain and gut health. He said that the brain and the gut are linked and thus poor health of the gut will negatively affect the manner in which neurons function.
The research team has over time been studying mouse models that contain a type of inherited ALS caused by mutations in the SOD1 gene. In past studies, they established that the mice models had an anomaly in the composition of the intestinal bacteria. As a result, they were deficient of cell components necessary in halting the leakage of gut contents into surrounding tissue. To alleviate this effect and restore the animals’ intestinal health, the researchers administered Butyrate from 5 weeks old to 6 weeks old.
This treatment was observed to enhance the animals’ gut health, alter its bacteria composition and minimize leakage from the intestines. It was discovered that, control mice became diseased when they were approximately 15 weeks old but the mice that had been treated with Butyrate, delayed onset of symptoms until they were 21 weeks old. Their lifespan was increased by nearly 6 weeks in comparison to the control mice.
The researchers noted that there are not many studies of ALS-linked changes to the health of intestines. However, facilitating such research could lead to the development of new and highly effective treatments. Sun further added that, as it stands there is only one approved drug used in treatment of ALS and there was need to come up with additional treatments. The availability of Butyrate over the counter as a supplement is key and in conducting further studies, its impact on ALS in humans can be established. From the preliminary results, the treatment in mice has proven promising and the same can be expected in ALS patients.