Research Project: Mitochondria – Microbiome Cross Talk in Mitochondrial Disease
Gut dysmotility and the associated symptoms, including gas production, malabsorption, abdominal pain, bloating and constipation; non-specific symptoms are frequent and often debilitating in children and adults with mitochondrial disease, with no curative and few effective symptomatic therapies. Although the proposed pathological mechanisms underlying the development of gut dysmotility remain elusive, mitochondrial dysfunction of the smooth muscle of the gut, visceral myopathy and/or impaired coordination of intrinsic/extrinsic pathways of the GI tract have all been proposed.
More recently, the gut microbiome has been implicated in the pathophysiology of various disease conditions and is important for gut integrity, immunity, drug metabolism, nutrient digestion and absorption and interestingly facilitates gut motility through the synthesis of neurotransmitters. My research aims to understand the complexity and workings of the gut microbiome in mitochondrial disease, providing a unique approach and deeper understanding of the complex microbe:microbe and microbiota–host interactions. The new insights generated here will provide the foundation for interventional studies aimed at manipulating the gut microbiome and relieve disease burden in patients with mitochondrial disease. Moving forward, I hope to generate data that can be used as an adjunct to current clinical management and may guide treatments directed at the gut. If successful these applications could be translated into ageing and diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, such as obesity, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease.