Dietary fibre confers therapeutic effects in a preclinical model of Huntington's disease

Carolina Gubert, Geraldine Kong, Callum Costello, Cameron D. Adams, Bethany A. Masson, Wendy Qin, Jocelyn Choo, Vinod K. Narayana, Geraint Rogers, Thibault Renoir, John B. Furness, Anthony J. Hannan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder involving psychiatric, cognitive and motor deficits, as well as peripheral symptoms, including gastrointestinal dysfunction. The R6/1 HD mouse model expresses a mutant human huntingtin transgene and has been shown to provide an accurate disease model. Recent evidence of gut microbiome disruption was shown in preclinical and clinical HD. Therefore, we aimed to assess the potential role of gut microbial modulation in the treatment of HD. The R6/1 HD mice and wild-type littermate controls were randomised to receive diets containing different amounts of fibre: high-fibre (10 % fibre), control (5 % fibre), or zero-fibre (0 % fibre), from 6 to 20 weeks of age. We characterized the onset and progression of motor, cognitive and affective deficits, as well as gastrointestinal function and gut morphological changes. Faeces were collected for gut microbiome profiling using 16S rRNA sequencing, at 14 and 20 weeks of age. When compared to the control diet, high-fibre diet improved the performance of HD mice in behavioral tests of cognitive and affective function, as well as the gastrointestinal function of both HD and wild-type mice. While the diets changed the beta diversity of wild-type mice, no statistical significance was observed at 14 or 20 weeks of age within the HD mice. Analysis of Composition of Microbiomes with Bias Correction (ANCOM-BC) models were performed to evaluate microbiota composition, which identified differences, including a decreased relative abundance of the phyla Actinobacteriota, Campylobacterota and Proteobacteria and an increased relative abundance of the families Bacteroidaceae, Oscillospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae in HD mice when compared to wild-type mice after receiving high-fibre diet. PICRUSt2 revealed that high-fibre diet also decreased potentially pathogenic functional pathways in HD. In conclusion, high-fibre intake was effective in enhancing gastrointestinal function, cognition and affective behaviors in HD mice. These findings indicate that dietary fibre interventions may have therapeutic potential in Huntington's disease to delay clinical onset, and have implications for related disorders exhibiting dysfunction of the gut-brain axis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-418
Number of pages15
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Feb 2024


  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Dietary fibre
  • Gut microbiome
  • Huntington's disease
  • Microbiota-gut-brain axis
  • Neurodegenerative disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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