Analysing the content of someone’s stomach could provide vital clues to their likelihood of developing dementia, according to new research.
The make-up of bacteria and other microbes in the gut may have a direct association with dementia risk, suggests the preliminary study.
Researchers studying the mix of bacteria and microbes in the intestines – known as gut microbiota – have found the “bugs” impact risks for diseases of the heart and more.
The Japanese team studied faecal samples of 128 people, some with dementia, and found differences in the components of gut microbiota in patients with the memory disorder.
They said the discovery suggests that what’s in the gut influences dementia risk much like other risk factors.
The analysis revealed that faecal concentrations of ammonia, indole, skatole and phenol were higher in dementia patients compared to those without dementia.
But levels of Bacteroides – organisms that normally live in the intestines and can be beneficial – were lower in dementia patients.
Study author Dr Naoki Saji, Vice Director of the Centre for Comprehensive Care and Research on Memory Disorders in Japan, said: “Although this is an observational study and we assessed a small number of the patients, the odds ratio is certainly high suggesting that gut bacteria may be a target for the prevention of dementia.”
The findings are due to be presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Conference in Hawaii next week.
By Stephen Beech