Gastrointestinal Tract Microbiome-Derived Pro-inflammatory Neurotoxins in Alzheimer's Disease

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Journal of aging science


The microbiome contained within the human gastrointestinal (GI)-tract constitutes a highly complex, dynamic and interactive internal prokaryotic ecosystem that possesses a staggering diversity, speciation and complexity. This repository of microbes comprises the largest interactive source and highest density of microbes anywhere in nature, collectively constituting the largest ‘diffuse organ system’ in the human body. Through the extracellular fluid (ECF), cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), lymphatic and glymphatic circulation, endocrine, systemic and neurovascular circulation and/or central and peripheral nervous systems (CNS, PNS) microbiome-derived signaling strongly impacts the health, well-being and vitality of the human host. Recent data from the Human Microbiome Initiative (HMI) and the Unified Human Gastrointestinal Genome (UHGG) consortium have classified over ~200 thousand diverse, non-redundant prokaryotic genomes in the human GI-tract microbiome involving about ~5 thousand different GI-tract microbes that all together encode almost ~200 million different protein sequences. While the largest proportion of different microbiome-derived proteins, lipoproteins and nucleic acids provide essential microorganism-specific gene products necessary to support microbial structure, function and viability, many of these same components are also shed from the outer cell wall of different Gram-negative bacterial species into surrounding biofluids which eventually enter the systemic circulation. Several of these microbial-derived secreted molecular species represent some of the most pro-inflammatory and noxious neurotoxins known. These neurotoxins disrupt cell-cell adhesion and easily translocate across aged or damaged plasma membranes and into the systemic circulation, brain, and CNS and PNS compartments. For example, microbial lipoprotein glycoconjugates such as Gram-negative bacteria-derived lipopolysaccharide (LPS), bacterial amyloids and more recently small non-coding RNA (sncRNA) microbial-derived neurotoxins have been found by many independent research groups to reside within the brain cells and CNS tissues of aged patients affected with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This ‘Commentary’ will highlight the most recent findings on these microbial-derived secreted toxins, their neurotropic properties and the potential contribution of these neurotoxic and pro-inflammatory microbial exudates to age-related inflammatory neurodegeneration, with specific reference to the human GI-tract abundant Gram-negative anaerobe Bacteroides fragilis and to AD wherever possible.

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