Microbiome affects brain astrocytes

Microbiome affects brain astrocytes

Researchers have shown that interferon-gamma, produced by gut bacteria can regulate proteins made by astrocytes, causing them to be anti-inflammatory or inflammatory in their relationship with brain cells; it’s another example of the gut-brain axis.

Researchers had discovered different subsets of astrocytes (1). Astrocytes are cells in the Central Nervous system believed to nourish, reduce inflammation and support the brains nerve cells. Now researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, believe that a subset can do the opposite – namely promote inflammation and neurological degeneration. And this seems to start in the gut.

The astrocyte population resides close to the meninges (the membrane enclosing the brain). Several proteins are expressed, for example LAMP-1 and TRAIL which can induce T-cell death, preventing inflammation.

However, researchers found the ‘interferon-gamma’ molecule could regulate TRAIL, turning it on or off, and that the amout of interferon-gamma was regulated by the gut microbiome.

Thus ultimately, the gut bacteria control whether astrocytes and going to be anti-inflammatory and nourishing to the brain, or inflammatory and cause problems, even cancer.

Go to: Brain Cancer – alternative treatments that work


  1. Sanmarco, L.M., et al. (2021) Gut-licensed IFNγ+NK cells drive LAMP1+TRAIL+ anti-inflammatory astrocytes. Nature


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