Dr. Thomas Blank PD Dr. Institute of Neuropathology, Faculty of Medicine University of Freiburg Freiburg, Germany

More Evidence Gut-Brain Axis Contributes to Age-Related Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Thomas Blank PD Dr. Institute of Neuropathology, Faculty of Medicine University of Freiburg Freiburg, Germany

Dr. Blank

Dr. Thomas Blank PD Dr.
Institute of Neuropathology, Faculty of Medicine
University of Freiburg
Freiburg, Germany

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: There has been growing evidence of the benefits of fecal transplants in some medical conditions, like cancer, hypertension and obesity for several years. In fish, it’s been shown that their lifespan could be extended significantly after fecal transplant from young fish. When we found an impact on cognitive function in mice from a fecal transplant, we decided to research and isolate how that biological mechanism was implemented.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Following the observation that fecal transplant from young to old mice triggered an improvement in cognitive function we then applied advanced multi-omics techniques and eventually isolated a metabolite named delta-valerobetaine. The levels of this metabolite were seen to increase in serum of mice as they aged. When injected in young mice, delta-valerobetaine was found to decrease neuroplasticity, learning and cognitive functions. The same metabolite has been found in humans. Here, the level of delta-valerobetaine also increases with age. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our research continues to build on the premise that much more of biology is interconnected. This is reflected well in the gut-brain axis pathway, but we are finding it to be the case in more areas of the body. What it also suggests it that there could be a more effective and productive way to conduct drug discovery and research when including the microbiome. Especially, the gut microbiome is incredibly essential to health as it helps manage digestion and benefits the immune system, among other things. Weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and other illnesses may be exacerbated by an imbalance of toxic and beneficial microorganisms in the intestines.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: At present, we are deepening our understanding of how delta-valerobetaine modulates brain function. On the behavioral level, recognition memory and spatial memory were especially impaired, a situation which is also present in elder humans. We believe this distinct pathway reaches from the gut to the upstream effect in the brain, therefore it can provide insights on how this new biological pathway contributes to clinically relevant symptoms.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We work toward enabling cognitive health and are in close contact with Ultimate Medicine, a Swiss-based preclinical drug development company. Ultimate Medicine was involved in the current study and develops drug candidates based on our joint findings. 


Mossad, O., Nent, E., Woltemate, S. et al. Microbiota-dependent increase in δ-valerobetaine alters neuronal function and is responsible for age-related cognitive decline. Nat Aging 11127–1136 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43587-021-00141-4

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022 by Marie Benz MD FAAD