Recent studies had explored that gut microbiota was associated with neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)) through the gut-brain axis, among which metabolic pathways played an important role. However, the underlying causality remained unclear.
Our study aimed to evaluate potential causal relationships between gut microbiota, metabolites, and neurodegenerative diseases through Mendelian randomization (MR) approach.
We selected genetic variants associated with gut microbiota traits (N = 18,340) and gut microbiota-derived metabolites (N = 7,824) from genome-wide association studies. Summary statistics of neurodegenerative diseases were obtained from IGAP (AD, 17,008 cases; 37,154 controls), IPDGC (PD, 37,688 cases; 141,779 controls), and IALSC (ALS, 20,806 cases; 59,804 controls) respectively.
Greater abundance of Ruminococcus (OR, 1.245; 95%CI, 1.103–1.405; p = 0.0004) was found significantly related to higher risk of ALS. Besides, our study found suggestive associations of Actinobacteria, Lactobacillaceae, Faecalibacterium, Ruminiclostridium, and Lachnoclostridium with AD, of Lentisphaerae, Lentisphaeria, Oxalobacteraceae, Victivallales, Bacillales, Eubacteriumhalliigroup, Anaerostipes, and Clostridiumsensustricto1 with PD, and of Lachnospira, Fusicatenibacter, Catenibacterium, and Ruminococcusgnavusgroup with ALS. Our study also revealed suggestive associations between 12 gut microbiome-dependent metabolites and neurodegenerative diseases. Glutamine was related to lower risk of AD. For the serotonin pathway, serotonin was found as a protective factor of PD, while kynurenine as a risk factor for ALS.
Our study firstly applied a two-sample MR approach to detect causal relationships among gut microbiota, gut metabolites, and neurodegenerative diseases. Our findings may provide new targets for treatments and may offer valuable insights for further studies on the underlying mechanisms.