Microbes in the gut are thought to contribute to damage to the motor skills in the brain.
Researchers have found a possible link between the onset of Parkinson’s disease and bacteria in the gut according to a new study.
Changes in the organic composition of gut bacteria have been seen to contribute to the deterioration of motor skills within the brain that is one major symptom of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the world with 10 million cases globally. What’s most interesting is that three-quarters of those who suffer from the disease have intestinal problems showing a strong association between the gut and the brain.
Sarkis Mazmanian of the California Institute of Technology and his research team wanted to look moe closely to this unusual relationship using mice with Parkinson’s disease. Two groups were used with one bred in a sterile environment and the other in a non-sterile environment. The team then introduced gut microbiota from human Parkinson sufferers and the mice undertook various tasks to show the symptoms of the degenerative disease. They found that the mice bred in sterile conditions performed much better than their non-sterile counterparts.
Antibiotic treatment was able to reduce these symptoms in the non-sterile mice, suggesting there was something in their microbiome that was enhancing the symptoms.
“These findings reveal that gut bacteria regulate movement disorders in mice and suggest that alterations in the human microbiome represent a risk factor for [Parkinson’s disease],” the researchers wrote.
“More generally, this research reveals that a neurodegenerative disease may have its origins in the gut, and not only in the brain as had been previously thought.”
The hope is to be able to identify certain strains of microbes – the ones that are more likely to cause symptoms in Parkinson’s – and be able to eliminate them before any damage to the brain occurs.
“Much like any other drug discovery process, translating this innovative work from mice to humans will take many years but this is an important first step,” explained Mazmanian.
The research was published in the journal Cell.