How Stroke Changes the Microbiome

Preliminary experimental evidence from the Center for Stroke Research Berlin suggests that stroke alters the gut microbiome.

The human gut is colonized by around 500 to 1000 bacterial species which have a combined genome about 100 times larger than the human genome. Recent advances in DNA sequencing allow scientists to study microbiota and the specific ways these impact the interlinkage between the gut and the brain and the development of diseases. For instance, in case of a brain lesion (e.g. a stroke), the brain engages intensely with the body’s immune system, of which the gut’s immune system is the most complex and largest part.

Researchers of the Center for Stroke Research at Charité Berlin are investigating three hypotheses which arise from the interlinkage between the brain and the gut because of a stroke: that strokes change the gut microbiome, that the gut microbiome affects the outcome of strokes and that a stroke has lasting impacting on the gut’s immune system. The scientists are attempting to validate that strokes change the human gut microbiome and that the gut microbiome of stroke patients differs from the non-stroke population. The team is currently testing the hypotheses in mouse models of experimental strokes and by then manipulating gut microbiota. In addition, the researchers are performing an observational study which analyzes the composition of gut microbiota in stool samples of stroke patients. Preliminary experimental evidence suggests that stroke alters the gut microbiome.

The research project on brain-gut interaction is one of twenty-one research projects at the Center for Stroke Research. The Center was founded in 2008 and consists of research groups which perform disease-oriented basic research, clinical research, and epidemiology and health services related to stroke. The Center for Stroke Research focuses on the individual patient from an interdisciplinary perspective and investigates all stages of stroke research which range from protecting the brain from strokes to restoring the brain functions after a stroke. Through assembling medical practitioners and researchers, the Center aims to span the bridge between new scientific evidence in the field of stroke research and the practical implementation of these findings. In addition, the Center for Stroke Research is based on flat hierarchies which enables young scientists to gain independence in their research and offers them attractive opportunities to advance their careers at an early stage.