Bad gut bugs may be a big cause of Parkinson’s disease

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Parkinson’s disease, a disorder that affects movement, touches the lives of about 8 million people around the globe. It can cause shaking, stiffness, and trouble with balance and coordination.

For a long time, what causes Parkinson’s has been a big puzzle, but scientists might have just found an important piece.

Gut Bacteria and Parkinson’s

Our bodies are like cities, bustling with trillions of bacteria. Most of these tiny citizens are friendly, helping with digestion, fighting bad bacteria, and even shaping our moods. However, some bacteria might be troublemakers, especially in Parkinson’s disease.

In 2021, Professor Per Saris from the University of Helsinki and his team made an intriguing discovery. They found more of a particular bacteria, called Desulfovibrio, in people with Parkinson’s.

And it seemed like the more of these bacteria present, the worse the Parkinson’s symptoms got. Researchers in China found something similar.

Environmental Factors in Parkinson’s

While it’s true that Parkinson’s can run in families, suggesting genes play a role, about 90% of cases aren’t directly caused by genetics. Instead, environmental factors, like exposure to certain toxins or bacteria, might be the culprits.

Saris and his team believe Desulfovibrio could be one such environmental factor. People might encounter these bacteria through food or other environmental sources.

Bacteria and Brain Proteins

The big question was, can these Desulfovibrio bacteria cause Parkinson’s? To explore this, the team used a simple worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, commonly used in research. Parkinson’s is known for protein clumps in the brain, damaging nerve cells and causing symptoms.

The team discovered that Desulfovibrio from Parkinson’s patients made these protein clumps form in the worms, and they were bigger than clumps formed by bacteria from healthy people.

Towards New Treatments

This discovery is huge for treating Parkinson’s. If Desulfovibrio bacteria are indeed triggering the disease, getting rid of them might ease or slow down the symptoms. This would prevent the formation of harmful protein clumps.

More research is needed, but this could lead to new ways to manage or even prevent Parkinson’s by focusing on gut bacteria.

A New Hope

These findings are exciting and could change how we understand and treat Parkinson’s. The idea that managing gut bacteria might help tackle this challenging disease brings new hope. It also highlights the importance of a healthy gut for overall brain health.

So, as we learn more about the link between our gut and diseases like Parkinson’s, we edge closer to potentially managing or preventing such conditions, simply by keeping an eye on our gut health.

This study was shared in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, adding valuable insights into the ongoing battle against Parkinson’s. And it reminds us that sometimes, big answers lie in the smallest of places.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Vitamin E that may help prevent Parkinson’s disease, and Vitamin D could benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new way to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing COVID-19 may be linked to Parkinson’s disease.

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