Gut health may be at the center of Parkinson’s disease

Credit: NIH.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressively debilitating disorder that affected 4 million individuals in the year 2005 and is projected to double to 8.7 million individuals by the year 2030.

Although historically defined as a movement disorder, PD is a multi-systemic disease.

In a study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, scientists found the gut microbiome is involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.

The findings showed a wide imbalance in microbiome composition in people with Parkinson’s disease. The study is the largest microbiome study conducted at the highest resolution.

The study reported Parkinson’s disease metagenome is indicative of a disease-promoting microbiome.

In the study, the team examined 490 people with Parkinson’s disease and 234 healthy people.

Just over half of the subjects were male and were predominately older than 50.

All were from the Deep South region of the United States, which helped to eliminate confounding by geographic and cultural influence on the composition of the microbiome.

The researchers studied 257 species of organisms in the microbiome, and of these, the analysis indicated 84, more than 30%, were linked to Parkinson’s disease.

Over 30% of the micro-organisms and bacterial genes and pathways tested have altered abundances in Parkinson’s disease, which indicates a widespread imbalance.

They found an overabundance of opportunistic pathogens and immunogenic components, which suggest infection and inflammation at play, overproduction of toxic molecules, and an overabundance of the bacterial product curli.

This induces PD pathology and dysregulation of neurotransmitters, including L-dopa.

This study created a large dataset at the highest resolution currently feasible and made it public with no restriction to promote open science.

The team says more information will be revealed as they increase the sample size and others also conduct metagenomics studies and share the data.

If you care about Parkinson, please read studies about why exercise may help treat Parkinson’s disease, and people with Parkinson’s may benefit from 7 walking strategies.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The study was conducted by Haydeh Payami et al and published in Nature Communications.

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