Researchers from the University of East Anglia say fecal transplants may be a “spring of youth” for cognitive function. Fecal transplants, commonly used to treat patients with thyrobacteria infections, have become an interesting topic in some studies involving gut bacteria and their potential role in human health. Transplanting bacteria from older subjects to younger subjects can cause changes in gut bacteria associated with deterioration in memory and learning, a new study has found.
Fecal transplants take stool samples from healthy subjects and transplant them into unhealthy subjects. The procedure is not risk-free, but it is a good way to treat certain dysfunctions associated with gut bacteria. Many studies in recent years have linked healthy gut bacteria to overall health — unfortunately, the bacteria seem to age with us and change with age.
For now, cognitive decline is a necessary result of age, but it may not be the case in the future. Scientists are looking for ways to maintain or improve cognitive function in an aging population, helping them remain independent while delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The current study, which focused on experimental mice, found that transplanting feces from older mice into younger mice could lead to significant changes in their gut bacteria. This change has a negative impact on cognitive function, and the researchers report a decline in memory and spatial learning in rodents.
Researcher Dr David Vauzour explained: “This process has an effect on the expression of proteins in key functions of the body, which is an important part of the brain and plays a vital role in a variety of functions, including memory and learning, as well as in spatial navigation, emotional behavior and emotions. In short, young mice began to behave like older mice in cognitive function.”
The findings raise new hopes that the reversal process could have the opposite effect — transplanting the feces of younger, healthier subjects into older subjects could lead to beneficial changes in gut bacteria. But more research is needed on whether such a change will occur.