Microbiome Resource Center

Microbiome Resource Center

September 17, 2019
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Keto Mediterranean diet could modulate gut microbiome to reduce Alzheimer’s risk

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Researchers found that a modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet can impact the gut microbiome in a way that decreases risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Harriom Yadav, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, and colleagues found that the diet produced changes in the microbiome that correlated with reduced levels of Alzheimer’s markers in individuals who participated in the study.

“The relationship of the gut microbiome and diet to neurodegenerative diseases has recently received considerable attention,” Yadav said in a press release. “This study suggests that Alzheimer’s disease is associated with specific changes in gut bacteria and that a type of ketogenic Mediterranean diet can affect the microbiome in ways that could impact the development of dementia.”

Researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, cross-over pilot study comprising 17 patients, including 11 with mild cognitive impairment and six with normal cognition. They randomly assigned patients to undergo a modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet (MMKD) or a low-fat, higher carbohydrate diet (American Heart Association Diet; AHAD) for 6 weeks. Following a 6-week washout period, patients switched to the other intervention.

Investigators assessed the patients’ gut microbiomes, fecal short-chain fatty acids and markers of Alzheimer’s disease (amyloid beta-40, amyloid beta-42, total tau, and phosphorylated tau-181) before and after the diet interventions.

Yadav and colleagues found no difference in microbiome diversity as baseline between patients with and without cognitive impairment. However, they identified several gut microbiome signatures in patients with mild cognitive impairment that correlated with higher levels of markers of Alzheimer’s disease. They found a positive correlation between Proteobacteria and the ratio between amyloid beta -42 and amyloid beta -40, while fecal propionate and butyrate correlated negatively with amyloid beta -42 in participants with mild cognitive impairment.

With the MMKD, researchers found that the abundance of Enterobacteriaceae, Akkermansia, Slackia, Christensenellaceae and Erysipelotriaceae increased and Bifidobacterium and Lachnobacterium decreased. Additionally, this diet slightly reduced fecal lactate and acetate while increasing levels of propionate and butyrate.

“Our findings provide important information that future interventional and clinical studies can be based on,” Yadav said in the release. “Determining the specific role these gut microbiome signatures have in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease could lead to novel nutritional and therapeutic approaches that would be effective against the disease.” – by Alex Young

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.