The strange interaction between brain injury and intestinal damage
The gut-brain connection is one of themore fascinating new areas of medical research. This intriguingtwo-way axis has been found to have numerous unexpected effects. Onone hand some studies have demonstrated how magnetic brainstimulation can alter a person's gut microbiome while other studieshave shown how gut bacteria could potentially play a role in theonset of PTSD and Alzheimer's.
A new study from the University ofMaryland School of Medicine has revealed another strange gut-brainconnection, this time between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and intestinaldamage. Researchers have previously identified an odd connectionbetween TBI and alterations in a person's gastrointestinal tract, butthis is the first study to understand this interaction in detail andto reveal the two-way nature of the process.
The study looked at mice that weresubjected to TBI, and discovered that following the brain trauma, theanimal's colon became more permeable. This means that bacteria canmore easily move from the intestine to other areas in the body,resulting in potentially fatal scenarios such as blood poisoning.
The team also looked at howirregularities in the gut could affect inflammation in the brainafter TBI. In this instance, after infecting TBI-inflicted mice withnegative gut bacteria, the animal's brain inflammation was seen toworsen. This fascinating result suggests that the harmful effects ofTBI can be directly influenced by gut dysfunction.
"These results indicate strongtwo-way interactions between the brain and the gut that may helpexplain the increased incidence of systemic infections after braintrauma and allow new treatment approaches," says lead researcherAlan Faden.
The study helps explain why patients suffering from TBI have been two and half times more likely to die from digestive problems than a person not afflicted by brain injury. So far, the mechanism that is causing this strange interaction is unknown, but this is strong research affirming the complexity of this two-way connection between the gut and the brain.
The study was published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.