Cognition, related to ferritin in blood and microbiota


According to research led by the Dr. Josep Trueta Biomedical Research Institute of Girona (IDIBGI)

Blood levels of ferritin, a protein involved in iron storage, are positively related to executive brain function, which is responsible for skills such as planning, inhibition, flexibility, verbal fluency and memory. In contrast, some bacterial species present in the gut microbiota impair these functions. This is according to a study led by the Dr. Josep Trueta Biomedical Research Institute of Girona (IDIBGI) in which researchers from the University of Lleida (UdL) and the Biomedical Research Institute of Lleida (IRBLleida) have participated. The results of the research have been published in the scientific journal Gut Microbes.

Therefore, the scientists believe that the associations between ferritin and cognition may be mediated by the gut microbiome via microbially derived metabolites. “Almost all microbial genes involved in arginine, proline and phenylalanine metabolism are negatively associated with ferritin and executive function in the brain,” the paper reports. “Thus, the higher the blood ferritin levels, the greater the down-regulation of these genes and the better the cognitive score,” they add. Still, they point out that more studies are needed.

“We are finding more and more evidence of the gut microbiota-brain axis. If we manage to understand this link, it could open the door to creating therapies for cognitive disorders based on modifying the microbiota through dietary changes,” says José Manuel Fernández-Real, head of the Nutrition, *Eumetabolism and Health group at IDIBGI.

Reinald Pamplona, professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the UdL, and Mariona Jové, lecturer at the University of Lleida, took part in the study. Both are members of the Metabolic Pathophysiology group at IRBLleida.

Text: Communication IDIBGI / Press UdL



Article Gut microbiota links to serum ferritin and cognition

Photo: Human gut microbiota / Photo: NIH Image Gallery (CC BY 2.0 Deed)

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