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Drinking acidified water may have beneficial effects for children with CLN3 disease, the juvenile form of Batten’s disease, suggests a study in a mouse model.

The effects of water with higher acid levels are likely linked to changes in the population of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract, called gut microbiota, the researchers said.

The study, “Changes in motor behavior, neuropathology and gut microbiota in a mouse model of Batten disease after administration of acidified drinking water, ”Was published in Scientific reports on nature.

Mouse models of CLN3 disease, the pediatric form of rare neurodegenerative Batten disease, mimic symptoms found in human patients, such as motor and cognitive decline.

Acidified drinking water has a pH between 2.5 and 3.0, unlike a pH of 8.4 found in normal tap water. Researchers often provide acidified drinking water to mice in the lab to prevent the spread of bacterial infections, as many infectious bacteria cannot survive in acidic conditions.

However, recent studies have shown that changes in the acidity of water disrupt the composition of the gut microbiota.

“The accumulated evidence indicates that the gut microbial community can undergo significant changes in neurological and neurodegenerative conditions / diseases, and that a complex interaction exists between the central nervous system and the gut microbiota,” the researchers said.

This suggests that changes in the gut microbiota could impact the symptoms of the CLN3 mouse model, they said.

The team found that once their lab mouse setup switched to acidified drinking water, the Batten mice began to show changes in their motor skills. In fact, the motor deficits in these mice started to go away to the point that these animals preformed the same as healthy mice in a pole climbing trial.

“This indicates a disease modifying effect of acidified water, possibly by influencing the composition of the gut microbiota,” the researchers said.

To further explore this observation, the team compared the effects of water acidity in mice with Batten disease and healthy animals (controls). The mice received either normal tap water or acidified water upon weaning. Their motor and behavioral performances were evaluated at 3 and 6 months, 6 months representing the middle of the disease.

Batten, three months the mice that drank the more acidic water had motor performance similar to that of the control animals. However, at six months, the Batten mice exhibited motor decline regardless of the water they drank.

Drinking acidified water improved behavioral test results and prevented microglial activation – an early marker of nerve cell loss and synonymous with inflammation – in Batten mice at three and six months of age.

“Overall, these results suggest that acidified drinking water delays disease progression in [Batten disease] mice, ”the researchers said.

The team also noted that, in healthy control mice, drinking acidified water decreased motor performance, alters spatial orientation – the ability to clearly differentiate top and bottom – and increased microglial activation. . However, balance and motor coordination in these animals were not affected.

The changes observed as a result of drinking water with higher acid levels have been attributed to alterations in the composition of the gut microbiota.

The two groups of animals that did not drink acidified water had a significantly different microbiota composition, namely in the relative abundance of Bacteroids, Barnesiella and Lactobacilli.

Healthy animals that received acidified water showed a significant decrease in the relative abundance of Lactobacillaceae family, while Batten mice showed more resistance to these alterations. This suggests that “the lack of Cln3 expression in the gastrointestinal tract, especially in the colon, stabilizes the composition of the gut microbiota, ”the researchers said.

However, in Batten mice, more acidic water altered the relative abundance of Turicibacter at three months, and Lactococcus and Turicibacter at six months.

“In summary, our results in [Batten] the mice suggest that acidified drinking water may have beneficial effects for patients with CLN3 Batten disease, ”the researchers wrote. “The changes induced by acidified water in glial activation, the composition of the gut microbiota and the behavior of [Batten] and wild-type mice indicate that the [acidity] drinking water is an environmental factor that strongly influences the results of [mouse studies]”, they added.

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