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Parkinson’s disease linked to gut bacteria

By Tim Sandle     Dec 20, 2014 in Science
A new strand of research shows that people suffering from Parkinson’s disease have a different composition of bacteria in their intestines compared with normal adults. A research group think that there is a causative connection.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. It is triggered by alpha-synuclein aggregates that lead to loss of dopamine-generating cells. Symptoms include hand shaking or difficulty walking.
New research suggests that gastrointestinal dysfunction, including constipation, can predict Parkinson’s-specific neurodegeneration several years before the onset of the main aspects of the disease.
The connection with the gut suggests that intestinal gut bacteria (the gut microbiome) interact with the body’s nervous system across different pathways. This research finding has come about after scientists looked into the microbiomes of Parkinson’s disease patients. For this analysis, a research team identified 72 Parkinson’s disease patients and 72 healthy audits. They then proceeded to compare the fecal microbiomes by carrying out genetic level analysis.
The initial findings have shown that patients with Parkinson’s have much less bacteria from a particular grouping called the Prevotellaceae family. Bacteria from this microbial family were 77 percent lower in Parkinson’s disease patients.
Furthermore, a different bacterial grouping was found in higher numbers. Enterobacteriaceae were more common in the guts of Parkinson’s disease patients. The more developed the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, then the greater the severity in motor symptoms, especially difficulty with walking.
Although the microbiome is altered in Parkinson’s disease patients, scientists are not clear how this connection is linked with disease progression. This is the next stage of the research.
The research was carried out at the University of Helsinki. The findings have been published in the journal Movement Disorder, in a paper headed “Gut microbiota are related to Parkinson's disease and clinical phenotype.”
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