Gut health strongly linked to Parkinson’s disease

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In a new study, researchers found a common pattern of changes in the abundance of gut bacteria types in Parkinson’s disease.

The research was conducted by a team at the Quadram Institute.

Parkinson’s is a progressive condition that affects nerve cells that produce dopamine, which coordinates movement.

As more nerve cells die, less dopamine is produced, leading to gradually worsening tremors, slower movement and muscle stiffness.

In addition, many people with Parkinson’s disease have gut problems that can show several years before the physical movement symptoms.

They may also have inflammation and “leaky” gut, signs of an imbalanced gut microbiome.

Several studies have shown differences in the Parkinson’s microbiome, but no clear consensus has emerged.

In the study, the team reanalyzed 1200 patients’ data paired with their control collected from six different countries.

The results confirmed that the Parkinson’s microbiome is different with a reduction in the dominant bacteria usually found in a healthy human gut.

The team found some of the depleted bacteria in Parkinson’s produce butyrate, which is used by the cells that line the gut to maintain its integrity as a barrier.

Butyrate and other short-chain fatty acids also play important roles in interactions between the gut, the nervous system and the brain.

Similar depletions in key bacterial species, butyrate levels and gut lining integrity are seen in patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and IBD patients have a 20%-30% higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Other bacteria involved in methane production are enriched in the gut of Parkinson’s patients.

These findings back up and add to the evidence linking the gut microbiome, gut inflammation, and immune function in Parkinson’s, and provides intriguing hints into potential mechanisms by which the gut microbiome influences the disease.

One author of the study is Dr. Stefano Romano.

The study is published in npj Parkinson’s Disease.

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