Study: Gut microbiota impacts the progression of brain lesions after stroke

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Stroke-induced inflammation is both a blessing and a curse. Some of the inflammatory processes help heal the damaged brain after treatment, but others severely damage neurons and whole-body function. In the research world, this observation has kicked off a long-distance race to find a solution that would both hinder ‘bad’ inflammation and promote its ‘good’ counterpart.

Corinne Benakis, neurobiologist at the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research, has something of a head start on her peers. Her research has found that the gut microbiota – beneficial bacteria living in symbiosis in our gut – has an impact on the progression of brain lesions after stroke.

Benakis’ research started bearing fruit in 2016, when she published a research paper in Nature Medicine demonstrating how the gut microbiota can modulate the inflammatory response in case of stroke, alongside project leader Arthur Liesz.

The gut contains the largest number of immune cells in the body, whose function is tightly regulated by the beneficial bacteria living in symbiosis in our gut. This so-called microbiota can ‘talk’ to immune cells, activate them and define whether they’ll become good or bad. We used an experimental model for stroke and induced a lesion in the brain, and we found that a stroke changes the type of bacteria in the gut. Immune cells become b

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