Parkinson's Disease May Be Linked To Gut Bacteria

Posted: Dec 4 2016, 2:13pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Parkinson’s Disease may be Linked to Gut Bacteria
Credit: Caltech
 

New study suggests that changes in gut microbes can affect brain regions associated with controlling movement.

For the first time, researchers have found a connection between Parkinson’s disease and microbes living inside the stomach. 

By conducting experiments on a mouse model, researchers from multiple institutes have showed how changes in gut microbes can affect the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The findings could lead to better treatments for the brain disorder that continues to worsen over time.

“We have discovered for the first time a biological link between the gut micro-biome and Parkinson's disease. More generally, this research reveals that a neurodegenerative disease may have its origins in the gut, and not only in the brain as had been previously thought,” said senior study co- author Sarkis Mazmanian from California Institute of Technology. 

“The discovery that changes in the micro-biome may be involved in Parkinson's disease is a paradigm shift and opens entirely new possibilities for treating patients.”

Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in United States after dementia. The disease is characterized by the abnormal accumulation of protein called α-synuclein in the brain. The protein affects the brains regions that control the movement of the body, resulting in rigidity, muscle stiffness, shaking and slowness of movement.

Gut parkinsons

Image depicts the findings of Sampson et al., who show that signals from gut microbes are required for the neuroinflammatory responses as well as hallmark gastrointestinal and a-synuclein-dependent motor deficits in a model of Parkinson's disease.

Credit: Sampson et al./Cell 2016

Many previous studies have also suggested connections between gut bacteria and Parkinson’s as well as other diseases but they could not show how the two might be interlinked. 

To find out, researchers used genetically modified mice with Parkinson’s like disease and divided them into two sets. One set of mice had bacteria in their digestive tract while other was free of bacteria. 

The germ-free mice were not accumulating protein in their brain cells. Thus, they showed fewer symptoms of the disease and performed better in motor skills test. Whereas, the mice with microbes begin to produce high levels of the protein in their brain cells and damaged brain areas attributed to controlling movement.

Next researchers fed both sets of mice with chemicals replicating gut bacteria activity. At this time, germ-free bacteria also started to show symptoms of the disease in their brain. The study indicates that gut bacteria may play an important role in developing Parkinson’s disease.

“Although exact causes of Parkinson’s disease are unknown, accumulating evidence suggests that inflammation plays a strong role in the development of the disease.” Dr Nic Dzamko from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) said.

In the future, researchers are hoping to replicate the trail in humans, so they can get more insight into Parkinson’s disease causes and its possible treatment.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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