There are a number of genetic disease for which persons of Jewish heritage are more likely to be affected than those in the general population, and these diseases are prevalent among all Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi Jewish populations.
The Human Microbiology Institute has investigated the particularity of microbiota in Jewish population with the goal of determining the role of these organisms in diseases that are prevalent among the Jewish community.
Our results indicate that the microbiota plays a crucial role in many of these diseases, including:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Familial hypercholesterolemia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Kaposi’s sarcoma
Highlights of the Maternal inheritance theory
- Similar to mitochondrial DNA, mammalian microbiota are inherited through generations from the mother via uniparental maternal transmission.
- The combined uniparental inheritance of the microbiota and mitochondrial DNA enables optimal interactions between the two.
- Alterations to the dual inheritance of the microbiota and mitochondrial DNA may negatively affect human health, leading to specific diseases.
In summary, we propose that alterations of specific components of the microbiome, which we call the “microbiota,” comprise the primary causes of certain diseases”.
Microbiota and Cognitive Function
There is a clear association between the composition of the microbiota and cognitive function. Indeed, gut microbiota have been shown to influence central nervous system development and thereby modulate cognitive function, including consciousness.
Given this putative role of the microbiome in regulating certain cognitive functions, we propose that the maternal inheritance of microbiota is one of the primary mechanisms by which the occurrence of certain diseases is common within the Jewish population. The impact of the gut microbiota on cognitive function and and “Jewish diseases” is now under extensive research by the HMI core.