Organs-On-A-Chip System Explains Gut-Brain Connection

In many ways, our brain and our digestive tract are deeply connected. Recent studies have even suggested that the bacteria living in our gut can influence some neurological diseases. Modeling these complex interactions in animals such as mice is difficult to do, because their physiology is very different from humans’. To help researchers better understand the gut-brain axis, researchers have developed an “organs-on-a-chip” system that replicates interactions between the brain, liver, and colon.

Using the organs-on-a-chip system, the researchers were able to model the influence that microbes living in the gut have on both healthy brain tissue and tissue samples derived from patients with Parkinson’s disease. They found that short-chain fatty acids, which are produced by microbes in the gut and are transported to the brain, can have very different effects on healthy and diseased brain cells.

While short-chain fatty acids are largely beneficial to human health, under certain conditions they can further exacerbate certain brain pathologies, such as protein misfolding and neuronal death, related to Parkinson’s disease.

Read more