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INVESTIGATING THE PERTURBED GUT-MICROBIOME-BRAIN-AXIS IN HUNTINGTON’S DISEASE: A STEP FORWARD IN DEVELOPING NOVEL THERAPEUTIC APPROACHES TO MODIFY DISEASE ONSET AND PROGRESSION
The human gut microbiota (which includes over a trillion bacteria in each of us!) plays a critical role in our overall well-being and is involved in a bidirectional communication with our brain. This crosstalk is termed the ‘gut-microbiome-brain-axis’. Alterations in the gut microbial composition have been reported in other neurological diseases. We (The Hannan Laboratory at the Florey Institute) have previously established an imbalance of the gut microbes population in a Huntington’s disease (HD) mouse model. Those findings have been confirmed in a preliminary study in clinical HD led by our Melbourne collaborators (Prof. Julie Stout and colleagues) at Monash University. Our current interests are in extending those findings by profiling longitudinal changes in the gut microbes in HD. This is important to uncover the potential effects of the HD gene mutation on gut microbial structure during early life, which may have consequences on other HD-related symptoms. In addition, we aim to understand how the gut microbiota could communicate with the HD brain, which will further elucidate the mechanisms mediating the potential modulatory effects of the gut microbiome in HD. Further understanding of the altered gut-microbiome-brain-axis is a step forward towards identifying novel therapeutic targets and new approaches to delay the onset and progression of this brutal disease.
Hannan Laboratory, Florey Institute of Neuroscience of Mental Health