Microbial dysbiosis (MD) provokes gut barrier alterations and bacterial translocation in the bloodstream. The increased blood bacterial DNA (BB-DNA) may promote peripheral- and neuro-inflammation, contributing to cognitive impairment. MD also influences brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) production, whose alterations contribute to the etiopathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The purpose of this study is to measure BB-DNA in healthy elderly controls (EC), and in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD to explore the effect on plasma BDNF levels (pBDNF), the inflammatory response, and the association with cognitive decline during a two-year follow-up. Baseline BB-DNA and pBDNF were significantly higher in MCI and AD than in EC. BB-DNA was positively correlated with pBDNF in AD, plasma Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and Interleukin-10 (IL-10) levels in MCI. AD patients with BB-DNA values above the 50th percentile had lower baseline Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). After a two-year follow-up, AD patients with the highest BB-DNA tertile had a worse cognitive decline, while higher BB-DNA levels were associated with higher TNF-alpha and lower IL-10 in MCI. Our study demonstrates that, in early AD, the higher the BB-DNA levels, the higher the pBDNF levels, suggesting a defensive attempt; BB-DNA seems to play a role in the AD severity/progression; in MCI, higher BB-DNA may trigger an increased inflammatory response.
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