Disturbed intestinal flora can trigger a stroke

The human intestinal flora affects the brain. If it is damaged, it can cause illness, such as a stroke. (Image: fotoliaxrender / stock.adobe.com)

Intestinal flora and stroke

The intestinal flora, also known as the microbiota or microbiome, is important for digestion, the defense against dangerous germs and toxins and the strengthening of the immune system. However, gut bacteria also affect brain health and can increase the risk of stroke.


Our intestinal flora also affects the brain. If it is damaged, it can cause illnesses such as strokes. Dr. Vikramjeet Singh, neuroscientist at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), researches how the interaction between intestinal bacteria and immune cells influences a cerebral infarction.

Most strokes are ischemic

As stated in a recent press release, most strokes are ischemic. This means that a blocked artery does not supply the brain with adequate blood and oxygen; Brain cells die.

It has been known for a number of years that the intestinal flora is not uninvolved in the extent and course of the stroke. Neuroscientist Dr. Vikramjeet Singh. Since 2018 he has been doing this at the UDE at the Center for Medical Biology (ZMB) and at the Institute for Experimental Immunology and Imaging of the Medical Faculty and the University Hospital.

Intestinal flora is out of balance

Together with colleagues, Singh found out in a study published in the “Journal of Neuroscience” that a stroke triggers an inflammatory reaction in the brain and also throws the intestinal flora out of balance. The latter in turn has significant consequences for the injured brain tissue.

The intestinal flora in healthy people consists of around 1,000 different types of bacteria; they regulate the immune system. “If the diversity is significantly lower or if the intestine is overpopulated with Bacteroidetes, a metabolic bacterium, this activates special defense cells: the neutrophils. These are the most common white blood cells, belong to the innate immune system and fight pathogens, ”explains Dr. Singh.

“After a stroke, neutrophils are the first to reach the injured brain. They produce proteins and enzymes to repair the broken tissue - and yet destroy more. "

It is not yet fully understood which molecular signals are used to activate the neutrophils. There is also a lack of therapies to prevent the immune cells from damaging brain function after a stroke. This is exactly where Dr. Singh work. The German Research Foundation is funding Singh's study with 430,000 euros over the next three years. (ad)

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