Researchers Have Found a New Type of Gut Microbe That May Increase Physical Activity Drive

Researchers Have Found a New Type of Gut Microbe That May Increase Physical Activity Drive
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Researchers have identified a gut-to-brain route in mice that boosts the animals’ performance during physical activity.
Certain species of gut bacteria, according to a study that was published in Nature and led by scientists at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, may trigger neurons in the gut to boost the desire to exercise. This study was published by the journal. The research conducted on mice uncovered a gut-to-brain route that explains how the presence of these bacteria might improve one’s ability to exercise.

According to the findings of the research, differences in running ability among a group of laboratory mice were mostly attributable to the presence of certain species of gut bacteria in the mice that exhibited superior running ability. The researchers determined that this impact is associated with a class of tiny compounds known as metabolites, which are produced by the bacteria in question. These metabolites stimulate the activity of sensory neurons in the gastrointestinal tract, which, in turn, increases activity in a region of the brain that is responsible for regulating motivation when exercising.

The principal author of the research, Christoph Thaiss, and his colleagues devised the study with the intention of conducting a comprehensive search for characteristics that impact exercise performance. They took notes on the genome sequences, the species of gut bacteria, the metabolites in the circulation, and other data for mice with a variety of genetic backgrounds. After that, they determined how much time the animals spent running voluntarily on the wheel each day, as well as their overall stamina.

These data were evaluated by the researchers using machine learning, and they were looking for characteristics of the mice that may best explain the animals’ significant inter-individual variances in their ability to run. They were startled to see that genetics appeared to account for just a tiny percentage of these performance disparities; nevertheless, changes in gut bacterial populations looked to appear to be a much more relevant factor. In point of fact, scientists found that when mice were administered broad-spectrum antibiotics in order to eliminate the bacteria that lived in their intestines, the mice’s ability to run was cut in half.

In the end, after years of scientific investigation involving more than a dozen different labs at Penn and abroad, the researchers discovered that two bacterial species strongly linked to improved performance, Eubacterium rectale and Coprococcus eutactus, create compounds known as fatty acid amides. This discovery was the culmination of a process that began at Penn and included more than a dozen other laboratories (FAAs). The latter activates endocannabinoid receptors on gut-embedded sensory neurons, which are connected to the brain through the spine. These receptors are known as CB1 endocannabinoid receptors. During physical activity, one area of the brain known as the ventral striatum experiences an increase in the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This rise is caused by the activation of neurons that are covered with CB1 receptors.

The striatum is an important part of the brain’s network that regulates reward and motivation. The researchers found that the additional dopamine in this area during exercise increases performance by reinforcing the urge to exercise.

These results throw wide up a plethora of hitherto unexplored areas for scientific inquiry. For instance, the results of the trials showed that the mice who performed better had a more powerful “runner’s high,” which was evaluated in this instance by a decrease in pain sensitivity. This provides evidence that the well-known phenomena is also at least partially regulated by gut flora. The group is going to do more research to determine whether or not people really have a connection between the stomach and the brain.

He went on to say that the investigation of this route would not only produce simpler strategies for regulating motivation and mood in conditions such as addiction and depression, but it might also offer the possibility of providing inexpensive, safe, and diet-based means of persuading regular people to start running and optimizing the performance of professional runners.


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Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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