The accompanying graphic illustrates how a sequence of brain trauma may or may not result in brain damage. Neurological damage from emotional or physical traumas will accumulate when microglia (i.e., white blood cells within the central nervous) are primed with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). LPS is a chemical released into the blood stream when humans develop intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Brain trauma activates the microglia. If they are healthy, they repair the damage and turn off. If the microglia are primed by LPS, they turn on in a different manner and prevent the damage from recovering. They also do not turn off, and contribute to a state of persistent inflammation within the brain by producing inflammatory cytokines. This brain inflammation (neuroinflammation) makes the brain more vulnerable to the next injury.
This graphic depicts how healthy mice without SIBO are able to recover from brain injury while mice exposed to LPS from SIBO do not fully recover, and also have magnified brain damage with each additional trauma.
Mice with LPS-primed microglia (black squares) and without LPS-primed microglia (white circles) were subjected to repeated brain injury and the development of neurological damage was then monitored.
The vertical axis denotes neurological function (i.e. muscle strength and motor coordination tasks) and horizontal axis is the number of weeks since microglia were primed with LPS from SIBO.
Mice without LPS-primed microglia exposed to repeated trauma (white circles) developed mild neurological injury with each trauma (as seen by the downward deflection of the circles) but quickly recovered (circles return to baseline).
Whereas, when mice with LPS-primed microglia (black squares) were exposed to the same repeated traumas, they suffered greater neurological damage (a greater downward deflection of the black squares) with each additional event, and they were unable to recover as readily (black squares do not return to baseline).
Mice with LPS-primed microglia who never experience the trauma (white triangles) will eventually start having neurological deterioration given enough time due to the toxic effects of LPS.
It is important to emphasize that although traumas may cause some brain damage, it is believed that humans without SIBO should fully recover just as the mice did. But once the microglia are primed with LPS, the damage is greater with each successive trauma and the damage never seems to fully recover as long as the persistent neuroinflammation continues.
High dose DHA supplementation, oleic acid supplementation via olive oil and vagus nerve stimulation all serve to suppress the primed –microglia, and allow the normal brain repair mechanisms to finally restore brain damage and function.