New Delhi | People with gut disorders may be at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's, according to the findings of a study which could lead to earlier detection and potential new treatments for the neurodegenerative disorder.
Alzheimer's disease, the most prevalent form of dementia, destroys memory and thinking ability. It has no known curative treatments and is expected to affect over 82 million people and cost USD 2 trillion by 2030, researchers involved in the study said.
Previous observational studies have suggested a relationship between Alzheimer's and gastrointestinal tract disorders, but what underpins these relationships had been unclear.
The researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia have now provided new insights into these relationships by confirming a genetic link between Alzheimer's and multiple gut disorders.
The study, published in the journal Communications Biology, analysed large sets of genetic data from Alzheimer's and several gut-disorder studies each of about 400,000 (4 lakh) people.
The team, led by Emmanuel Adewuyi, said it was the first comprehensive assessment of the genetic relationship between Alzheimer's and multiple gut disorders.
The researchers found that people with Alzheimer's and gut disorders have genes in common - which is important for many reasons.
"The study provides a novel insight into the genetics behind the observed co-occurrence of Alzheimer's and gut disorders," Adewuyi said.
"This improves our understanding of the causes of these conditions and identifies new targets to investigate to potentially detect the disease earlier and develop new treatments for both types of conditions," the researcher said.
Professor Simon Laws, supervisor of the study, said while the study did not conclude gut disorders cause Alzheimer's or vice versa, the results are immensely valuable.
"These findings provide further evidence to support the concept of the 'gut-brain' axis, a two-way link between the brain's cognitive and emotional centres, and the functioning of the intestines," Laws added.