Mind, Mood & Microbes
Very successful first international conference on the influence of intestinal bacteria on brain disorders
Intestinal bacteria have the potential to play a role in the treatment of various brain disorders and the symptoms associated with them. That's one of the conclusions of the first edition of the Mind, Mood & Microbes conference that took place on December 1 and 2 at the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam. More than 250 international and Dutch specialists came together to exchange knowledge about the connection between the gut microbiota and brain.
There was a lot of enthusiasm for the Mind, Mood & Microbes conference.More than 250 neuroscientists, gastroenterologists, microbiologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, immunologists and chemists came together to discuss the latest developments in the area of the influence of intestinal bacteria (gut microbiota) on mental health. On Thursday and Friday, there were lectures and poster presentations and on Friday there was an interactive brainstorming session about the potential of microorganisms to treat depression, autism and Parkinson's disease.
Read an extensive report of the Mind, Mood & Microbes conference on the Winclove website >
During her lecture, Prof. Dr. Sommer (UMC Utrecht) indicated that people with Parkinson's disease, bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Tourette's syndrome, schizophrenia, Huntington's disease, brain damage due to trauma, obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) and other neurological and psychiatric disorders often experience common symptoms. These aspecific symptoms like fatigue, mood problems, social isolation, problems in interacting with others and cognitive problems have a major impact on patients' performance and quality of life. Common complaints which can possibly be avoided and treated through prevention and intervention. Here, so-called 'psychobiotics', probiotic bacteria with an effect on behavior and brain function, can play an important role.
During his lecture, Prof. Dr. Cryan (Cork, Ireland) explained how the bacteria in our gut can cause some of the symptoms. This idea is supported by several studies with mice, which show that the addition or omission of certain bacteria strongly influence the mouse's behavior and state of mind.
That bacteria in our gut can directly affect the brain became clear during the lectures by Dr. Chevalier from Paris and Dr. Wolf from Germany. In their research, they saw that
substances produced by intestinal bacteria have a direct effect on the production of brain cells in the treatment and the onset of depression. Sarah Dash of the IMPACT study in Melbourne (Australia) replied to this by explaining the importance of a proper diet in the treatment of depression. An intervention study showed the first positive results that a low-processed , Mediterranean diet that contains lots of vegetables could help in the treatment of depression.
Prof. Dr. Dinan (Cork, Ireland) opened the Friday morning session by reporting that a reduced richness and diversity of intestinal bacteria is found in people with depression. According to him, healthy bacteria, probiotics, will mainly be an addition to the treatment and will not be able to completely replace medication. Dinan: "You could use special probiotics to manipulate the gut microbiota so that someone with a brain disease responds better to medication." Finally, Dr. Laura Steenbergen showed that, in a study with healthy volunteers in Leiden, an improvement could be seen in the susceptibility to depression after a specific probiotic had been administered for four weeks.
During the brainstorming sessions, a so-called World Café in which the divers specialists engage with one another in an open and intimate dialogue at a round table with eight people, it became apparent how connective the Mind, Mood & Microbes conference was. The conference brought different scientific and clinical disciplines closer together, which could eventually lead to new possibilities for the application of nutrition, probiotics and prebiotics to various brain disorders. The first step has been taken!
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