Researchers have found that supplements containing short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) may be able to help the brain recover from having a stroke. This comes after previous findings showing that having a stroke alters the makeup of gut bacteria and thus has a significant impact on stroke prognosis.
For the study, scientists from the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, germany, Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and the Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, added SCFAs to the drinking water supply of mice over four weeks before inducing them to have a stroke.
In their results, the researchers found that the mice who drank the water containing SCFAs tended to experience faster recovery form their strokes when compared to mice who did not drink water with SCFAs. In particular, they noted how these mice experienced significantly less motor impairment than their counterparts, as well as increased rates of growth among dendritic spines- vital structures for memory.
Moreover, the brains of mice who drank the water containing fatty acids also tended to express more genes related to microglia, also known as the immune cells of the brain. The researchers speculate that such microglial activity may be behind the increase in dendritic spines, and thus some of the improvements in their stroke prognosis.
Thus, from their research, the authors went on to conclude that short chain fatty acids may behave like messenger along the gut-brain axis, by modulating how the brain responds to, and recovers from damage. The researchers conclude their report by saying, “We demonstrate that SCFAs are potent and pro-regenerative modulators of post-stroke neuronal plasticity at various structural levels. We identified that this effect was mediated by circulating lymphocytes on microglial activation. These results identify SCFAs as a missing like along the gut-brain axis and as a potential therapeutic to improve recover after a stroke.”
In particular, the researchers say that their findings may point towards SCFA supplementation as a non-invasive addition to current stroke rehabilitation therapies. However, before this may happen, more research is needed to better understand its efficacy, as well as clinical trials to know whether these findings also translate over to humans.