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Gut Investigations Reveal Parkinson’s Clues

Gut Parkinson's Clues

People with Parkinson’s have substantial changes in the bacteria living in their gut relative to people without the condition, a collaborative meta-analysis by English and German researchers has revealed.

A meta-analysis uses data from a host of previous studies to arrive at more robust conclusions.

A noteworthy result from this analysis was that people with Parkinson’s generally had more diverse gut microbiomes. Specifically, Parkinson’s patients tended to have lower levels of bacteria that are usually abundant in the guts of people without the condition, and higher levels of bacteria that are typically rare in a normal gut.

Parkinson’s patients also tended to have lower levels of bacteria that produce butyrate, a compound important for the activity of the cells that line the gut and for mediating cross-talk between the gut and the nervous system.

Increased levels of bacteria that produce methane were also evident, which the researchers speculated could, together with bacteria that deplete mucus, be tied to constipation in Parkinson’s patients, a common non-motor symptom of the condition.

Such alteration in the diversity and abundance of different types of bacteria “points towards an important role of the gut microbiota in modulating the immune function in this disease,” the researchers wrote.

“The restoration of a balanced microbiome in patients might alleviate some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s, and this is a really exciting route of research we are exploring,” the researchers cheerfully concluded.

Source: Romano, Stefano, et al. "Meta-analysis of the Parkinson’s disease gut microbiome suggests alterations linked to intestinal inflammation." npj Parkinson's Disease Journal (2021)

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