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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Contributions of Gut Microbes to Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease affects 5.5 million people in the United States and increasing rates of disease exert a substantial economic toll (over $259B per year). Alzheimer’s has no cure and effective treatments are lacking.

This research will test whether Alzheimer’s disease is caused, or at least influenced, by the gut microbiome. If this turns out to be true, there is a clear translational story, including the potential for new Alzheimer’s treatment and/or prevention based on drugs that influence the gut microbiome or fecal transplants. Unlike the human genome, the gut microbiome can be modified through transplants, synbiotics, and diet to prevent disease.

The research will rely on both animal and human studies. Researchers will assess the role of the microbiome in 250 participants in the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center clinical core and Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention study. Participants will comprise people with and without dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as participants who are asymptomatic but may be harboring “silent” Alzheimer’s neuropathology. The study involving data collection and analysis in humans will be followed by experimental validation in gnotobiotic mice.


Barbara Bendlin, Associate Professor of Geriatrics and Adult Development


Federico Rey, Assistant Professor of Bacteriology


Joshua Coon, Professor of Chemistry

Luigi Puglielli, Professor of Medicine

Jason Russell, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Vikas Singh, Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Computer Sciences

Sterling Johnson, Professor of Medicine