Special Cells Help Brain and Gut Communicate | The Institute for Creation Research

Special Cells Help Brain and Gut Communicate

After investing so much time and effort to understand how body parts interact, scientists keep turning up new and unforeseen connections—often when they ask the right questions. New and strange developments inspired a team to ask wacky questions about a unique white blood cell called Ly6Chi. And they found some profound answers.  

Publishing in Cell Reports, German and U.S. scientists asked why the same cells showed up both in mouse brain and gut.1 They also asked why mouse brains stopped certain activities after antibiotics erased the helpful bacteria from mouse gut contents. The team knew Ly6Chi cells were present in a region of the brain’s hippocampus called the dentate gyrus (DG) that builds new cells as mice learn new things. This also happens in other mammals including man. What’s going on with these cells?

Ly6Chi cells belong to the immune system where they help immune surveillance. When mice or men get an infection, these cells also help activate body defenses. New results demonstrate that these special cells help the gut and brain communicate.

The study authors wrote, “Adult neurogenesis has been linked to hippocampus-dependent cognitive function, and it is required for memory resolution and for proper pattern separation in the DG of the hippocampus.”1 Ly6Chi cells play a key role in the DG, and therefore in memory and pattern resolution.

But they also play a key role in the gut. The Cell Reports authors wrote, “Therefore, we hypothesized the presence of a common mediator, which signals from the periphery to the brain, and that this messenger is affected by antibiosis and can be restored by exercise and probiotic treatment.”1 Hypothesis confirmed: Ly6Chi cells are that mediator.

The research team found that antibiotics zapped Ly6Chi cells from the gut and elsewhere, but probiotics brought them back into action. Mice that consumed probiotics or exercised on a running wheel reinvigorated their Ly6Chi cell population and hippocampus brain activity.

Only five years ago, few would have imagined such a complicated array of functions for just one cell. This research confirms that what enters the mouth to feed or starve gut microbes also influences brain function. It reveals that specific cells travel from the gut to tell the brain what’s going on with the microbes down there.

You never know what remarkable discovery waits for an inquisitive mind to ask the right question—even a wacky one.

Reference

  1. Mohle, L. et al. 2016. Ly6Chi Monocytes Provide a Link between Antibiotic-Induced Changes in Gut Microbiota and Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis. Cell Reports. 15 (9): 1945-1956. Posted online on cell.com May 19, 2016, accessed May 20, 2016.

*Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on June 16, 2016.

The Latest
NEWS
Embarrassment Continues over Evolutionary Blunder about “Junk...
Recent research from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) continues to highlight how evolutionary theory influenced...

NEWS
God’s Plan Is Best: Salmon Need Saltwater Acclimation
Once again, results are better when aquaculture imitates the natural life cycle of Atlantic salmon.1,2 In other words, the closer fish farmers...

NEWS
Inside August 2020 Acts & Facts
Have you heard about ICR’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza? What can we learn from an old prayer? Is creation evidence...

NEWS
After 30 Years, Red Kites Soar in British Skies
Good news is always welcome. So, it’s good to learn of another conservation comeback. This time it’s the red kite happily soaring in Great...

CREATION PODCAST
Meet Dr. G
Hear the history and heart of ICR’s newly appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza. He has served as ICR’s National...

ACTS & FACTS
'Doing Business' in Good Times and Bad
No doubt many of you, like me, have been earnestly looking for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He called all believers to be godly “salt”...

APOLOGETICS
Sentinels Are Needed in Perilous Times
Watch out! Dangers lurk everywhere—these are surely perilous times.1 One of the apologetics-exhorting themes in Jude’s epistle...

ACTS & FACTS
Why Don't Raindrops Bomb Butterfly Wings?
Okay, I admit most folks have probably not thought to ask this creation question. But a bigger question gets answered when we examine the fantastic...

ACTS & FACTS
Believe Anyway
by Scott Arledge and Brian Thomas, Ph.D. Some within the creation community make the claim that they would believe God’s Word about the age...

DISCOVERY CENTER
The ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History Updates*
Plan your trip at ICRdiscoverycenter.org, where you’ll find ticket information, discounted rates for nearby hotels, and links to other...