Digestive Germs May Affect Parkinson’s Disease, Study Finds
Digestive Germs May Affect Parkinson’s Disease, Study Finds

Digestive Germs May Affect Parkinson’s Disease, Study Finds

The germs living inside a person’s digestive system may affect symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, researchers reported Thursday.

In a new study out this week in the journal Cell, scientists at Caltech found that changes in the type and number of microbes in a person’s gut may help determine whether they will go on to develop Parkinson’s. This new understanding of the disease could help researchers find better ways to treat it.

Previous studies on the gut microbiome—the collection of bacteria inside a person’s intestine—found that people with Parkinson’s disease had significantly different bacterial communities than those without the condition. But it was still unclear what microbes played a role in the illness and how. To figure this out, researchers took human gut microbes from both people with Parkinson’s disease and from healthy individuals, then transplanted them into mice being raised in a germ-free environment. These mice were also predisposed to over-express the human protein α-synuclein, which is what causes the plaque build-up characteristic of the degenerative disease.

The mice that received microbes from the Parkinson’s patients showed more loss of motor control (a common symptom of the disease) than the ones who got microbes from healthy people. This is the first time researchers have seen Parkinson’s worsened in mice by way of associated gut microbes. While scientists still aren’t certain exactly which microbes associated with Parkinson’s are actually tied to these symptoms – or how that connection might work – the study adds evidence that bacteria do play a role.

“This study is really a stand out in microbiome research,” says Justin Sonnenburg, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford Medical School who wasn’t involved in the new study. The experiments, he says, clearly show that microbes could play a causal role in Parkinson’s disease, at least in a mouse model.

But that’s an important distinction, Sonnenburg cautions. As is the case in all mice studies, these results might not translate to human health. And even if human patients are similarly effected by these microbes, we still have no idea how the connection works. There may be other crucial components of the disease left for scientists to uncover.

In the future, researchers plan to analyze the gut microbiomes of people with Parkinson’s to figure out which microbes could be involved. If they can be identified – and if these microbes are truly as integral to the disease as this study suggests – then perhaps targeted probiotics or dietary changes could one day help to treat or prevent the disease.


  • About News

    Web articles – via partners/network co-ordinators. This website and its contents are the exclusive property of ANGA Media Corporation . We appreciate your feedback and respond to every request. Please fill in the form or send us email to: [email protected]

    Check Also

    Brian Laundrie news: 'We're not wasting our time,' police commander says

    Brian Laundrie news: ‘We’re not wasting our time,’ police commander says

    VENICE, Fla. – Six days into the search for Brian Laundrie, police in North Port …

    Leave a Reply