Our brains can have a community of bacteria that resembles the intestinal microbiome



Our body is full of bacteria; In our skin, mouth, intestines and other tissues we can find communities of bacteria that fulfill important biological processes. For example, several studies have shown that the intestinal microbiome participates in many important processes for our organism, such as digestion, immune reactions, among others.

On this subject there are many discoveries that are constantly being published about the importance of the human microbiome; However, recent research could break certain paradigms in the field. In this respect, a team of researchers suggests that there may be bacterial communities in our brains similar to those in our intestines and other tissues.

Scientists discover bacterial communities in the human brain

The research was conducted by Rosalinda Roberts, who works as a neuroanatomist. To reach this conclusion, the researcher evaluated brain tissue samples from 34 deceased persons; half of these people were diagnosed with schizophrenia, while the rest were in good health. So, after doing a serial analysis of the micro-organisms present, they discovered that variable amounts of bacteria lived in this brain.

These microorganisms were rod-shaped and consisted of a capsule, a nucleoid, ribosomes and vacuoles, just like any other bacterium. In concrete terms, the researchers determined that the density of these bacterial communities varies, depending on the brain structure that is being analyzed.

In this way large quantities of microorganisms were found in the substantia nigra, in the hippocampus and in the prefrontal cortex. In the same vein, the researchers discovered bacteria in brain cells called astrocytes that play an important role in the process of neuronal communication.

Besides the identification of a possible brain microbiome, researchers do not yet know where these bacteria come from; In this respect, it is concluded that the bacteria could settle there after they had been transported from the intestine through the bloodstream and passed the blood-brain barrier after they had settled in the brain. Yet it is not excluded that these bacteria have entered the brain tissue after processes of surgical contamination during the autopsies performed.

The existence of the brain microbiome has yet to be confirmed

This was one of the brain slices that were studied by researchers in which the presence of bacteria can be demonstrated. Credits: Rosalinda Roberts, Courtney Walker and Charlene Farmer

After this discovery, the researchers conducted experiments that enabled them to discover that the microbiome of the brain is not limited to humans; In this sense, the presence of bacteria appeared when analyzing the brains of a group of healthy mice. However, when working with mice that were grown in isolation-free environments in isolation-free environments, it was not possible to observe the presence of this microbiome. That is why it is still early to confirm the results.

By way of synthesis, the researchers discovered that the human brain can be the home of a certain microbiome, just like other tissues in our body. However, the research line is still in its infancy to view the results as something definitive.

The researchers explain that, given the fact that the origin of these bacteria is still unknown, it is not possible to confirm whether the microbiome is indeed part of a healthy brain under normal circumstances or, on the contrary, the discovery is the result of a contamination process during the investigation.

Yet the existence of a brain microbiome could revolutionize neuroscience. Therefore, researchers have proposed to continue analyzing this phenomenon to determine if there really is a microbiome in the brain and what its effect is on health.

Reference: R. Roberts, C. B. Farmer, C. K. Walker, (2018). The microbiome of the human brain; there are bacteria in our brains! Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobio., Univ. From Alabama


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