Nov 04 2018

The origin of Parkinson’s disease may be the gut

Published by at 12:40 pm under probiotic supplements

The origin of Parkinson’s disease may be the gut.* The way we treat and screen for Parkinson’s disease may start with examining gut bacteria.*  Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder affecting 1-2% of those aged 65 and older in the US. It is characterized by a loss of motor skills and trembling, first identified by English surgeon James Parkinson in 1817 as “shaking palsey”.1* For many decades, Parkinson’s research has been focused on the brain and the loss of neurons which producedopamine, a molecule involved in movement, (among other functions). But more recently, research has shifted from the brain to the gut. Can Parkinson’s originate in the microbiome? Many think so. (2,3)* James Parkinson was the first to note that some of his patients with “shaky palsy” were also suffering from constipation. In some cases, he treated the gastrointestinal complaints and found this alleviated the movement related problems associated with the disease.2* Physicians have since then noted that constipation is one of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s patients, appearing in about half of the cases. It is usually present before movement related problems occur. (2,3)* In 2003, a neuroanatomist from the University of Ulm in Germany name Heiko Braak, and his colleagues, proposed that Parkinson’s may actually “…originate in the gut rather than the brain…” Braak’s theory, was grounded in the study of post-mortem samples of Parkinson’s patients, “…Lewy bodies, clumps of alpha synuclein, appeared in both the brain and the gastrointestinal nervous system that controls the functioning of the gut…”  Braak and his colleagues’ work also suggested that “…the pathological changes in patients typically developed in predictable stages that starts in the gut and ends in the brain. At the time, the researchers speculated that this process was linked to a “yet unidentified pathogen” that travels through the vagus nerve…”(2,3)* More and more, evidence points to this theory but the question still remains as to how …changes in the intestines drive neurodegeneration in the brain…”(2,3)* More recently, lead researcher Sarkis Mazmanian from the Institute of Technology (CalTech)  reported, “…“We have discovered for the first time a biological link between the gut microbiome (microorganisms found in association with both healthy and diseased humans) and Parkinson’s disease. 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…” They found patients with Parkinsons have different gut bacteria than healthy adults and report digestive problems up to 10 years before having signs of tremors.(2,3)* The team made this discovery by examining the spread of the alpha-synuclein fibres, which normally are small and soluble in healthy neurons. In Parkinson’s patients, these alpha-synuclein molecules clump together and cause damage to the neurons in the brain. Ten years ago, researchers began to report that the patients who had the alpha-synuclein in their brains also had it in their guts. (2,3)* The team had a “eureka moment” when during an experiment on mice, they found that mice injected with gut bacteria from Parkinson’s patients quickly began to show symptoms of the disease, versus when they were injected with gut bacteria from healthy people. The scientists think that the gut bacteria might be responsible for chemicals which are over activating parts of the brain, leading to alpha-synuclein damage. “…The team involved in the research breakthrough now want to analyze the microbiomes of people with PD to try to narrow down which microbesseem to be predisposing people to the disease. If they could identify certain strains, it means scientists could find a way to screen for Parkinson’s before symptoms appear and the damage to the brain occurs. It could also help them come up with new treatment options…”(2,3)* And yet one more body of research suggests that intestinal inflammation, caused by gut microbes, could cause Parkinson’s disease in some. Inga Peter, a genetic epidemiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, along with her colleagues combed through two large U.S. medical databases to see if there was a connection between inflammatory bowel diseases and Parkinson’s. They compared 144,018 patients with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis and 720,000 healthy individuals. Their research showed  that Parkinson’s was 28 percent higher in those with inflammatory bowel disease compared to the healthy control group(2,3)* Depending on if this research can be replicated and verified, it could change the way Parkinson’s is treated. The next step is to determine which microbes seem to be predisposing people to the disease. Identifying strains could help scientists screen for Parkinson’s before the symptoms appear and damage to the brain happens, as well as come up with new treatment options. (2,3)* The health of our guts is so important and it is so tied into our brains, our immune system and our entire bodies. What happens in the gut affects all systems in our bodies. This type of research is so promising. It is thrilling to hear that researchers are finding results that may make sense of diseases previously unexplained. Continue to take care of your gut with a regular intake of Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Conortia™ to keep your immune system strong and your health protected. * Healthiest wishes, Kelli   www.bodybiotics.com   Resources:
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1353802016300669
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-parkinsons-begin-in-the-gut/
  3. https://www.cureparkinsons.org.uk/News/parkinsons-starts-in-gut

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