A growing body of research shows that the microbiome in your gut can affect your brain. But can it go the other way?
Can brain changes affect your gut microbiome? And if so, do these changes affect your health and well-being?
A University at Buffalo researcher is leading a pilot study to answer that.
The goal is to determine whether behavioral self-management of a painful and common gastrointestinal disorder may lead to fundamental changes in the gut microbiome, the digestive system’s bacterial ecosystem.
The study is being conducted with a subset of patients enrolled in a large, National Institutes of Health-funded study being led by Jeffrey Lackner, professor in the Department of Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and UB Biomedical Sciences and director of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic. The multicenter study focuses on whether a specific, non-drug treatment – a cognitive behavior therapy program – can relieve the often-debilitating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for which there is no satisfactory medical treatment.
Lackner has teamed with Drs. Kirsten Tillisch and Emeran A. Mayer of the Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress at the University of California, Los Angeles, to determine if the behavioral strategies that IBS patients use to reduce their GI symptoms also lead to changes in the microbial composition in the gut.
“We know that the gut microbiome can influence neural development, brain chemistry, mood, pain perception and how the stress system responds,” Lackner said in a news release.
“Our research has shown that manipulation of the gut microbiota with probiotics can change the way our brain responds to the environment,” Tillisch said. “Because the brain-gut-microbiota connection is a two-way street, we believe that central or brain-directed treatments like cognitive behavior therapy may reduce GI symptoms by altering the gut microbiota. This really has game-changing implications.”
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