Source | neurosciencenews.com
Summary: A new “organ on a chip” system helps researchers uncover how bacteria in the human digestive tract can impact neurological diseases.
In many ways, our brain and our digestive tract are deeply connected. Feeling nervous may lead to physical pain in the stomach, while hunger signals from the gut make us feel irritable. Recent studies have even suggested that the bacteria living in our gut can influence some neurological diseases.
Modeling these complex interactions in animals such as mice is difficult to do, because their physiology is very different from humans’. To help researchers better understa nd the gut-brain axis, MIT researchers have developed an “organs-on-a-chip” system that replicates interactions between the brain, liver, and colon.
Using that system, the researchers were able to model the influence that microbes living in the gut have on both healthy brain tissue and tissue samples derived from patients with Parkinson’s disease. They found that short-chain fatty acids, which are produced by microbes in the gut and are transported to the brain, can have very different effects on healthy and diseased brain cells.