The research shows that the onset of Alzheimer's could be the result of bacteria bypassing the brain's defences and infecting the neurons. Scientists studying the brains of deceased donors found that the type and quantity of bacteria differed between healthy brains and those with Alzheimer's.
The researchers, from the UK's University of Bristol, think that there may be a link between neuroinflammation and these newly-discovered bacteria populations. David Emery, one of the researchers, said that, " Alzheimer's brains usually contain evidence of neuroinflammation, and researchers increasingly think that this could be a possible driver of the disease, by causing neurons in the brain to degenerate." Furthermore, he believes that "Neuroinflammation in the brain may be a reaction to the presence of bacteria."
They analyzed the bacteria genes that the brains contained, using a process called DNA sequencing. Their results showed that the diseased brains contained ten times more Actinobacteria than Proteobacteria. Additionally, the Alzheimer's brains contained a lot more bacterial sequences than the healthy brains. Some of the bacterial species identified included ones usually associated with the nose, skin, and mouth.
Shelley Allen, another of the researchers, explained that "previous studies looking at bacteria in the Alzheimer's brain have primarily investigated specific bacterial species," however, "we wanted to use an unbiased method to obtain the fullest overview possible of the entire bacterial population."
This isn't the first time that researchers have suggested a possible connection between Alzheimer's and bacteria, yet this is by far one of the most detailed investigations into the subject to date. Hopefully, these findings will help fuel further research into Alzheimer's disease, which will eventually lead to a cure.
In the meantime, if you want to decrease your chances of developing Alzheimer's, experts recommend maintaining a healthy sleeping pattern, keeping active, and stimulating your mind in as many ways as possible.