Robert Ferris, CNBC reported last week that scientists from several institutions in the United States and Europe showed how changing the bacteria in the guts of mice affected the manifestation of Parkinson’s symptoms — even including bacteria taken from the guts of humans with the disease.
“The findings suggest a new way of treating the disease: The best target for treatment may be the gut, rather than the brain. The researchers hope the new information can be used to develop “next generation” probiotics, more sophisticated than the sort of probiotics found on the shelves of health food stores today. ” The scientists published their findings Thursday in the journal Cell.
What’s Parkinsons Disease?
It is not usually the result of genetics, most often, it seems to be influenced by environmental factors, scientists report.
Previous research has suggested connections between gut bacteria and Parkinson’s, as well as other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. But no research has shown exactly how the two might be related…until now.
Researchers performed three different experiments that showed the link between the microorganisms in the gut and the disease in the brain.
“First, the team acquired two sets of mice that had been genetically modified to overproduce alpha-synuclein — the protein that is the hallmark of the disease. One set of mice had a complete microbiome — the collective name for the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. The other set had no bacteria in their guts — they were germ-free.
The germ-free mice were still overproducing alpha-synuclein, but their brain cells were not accumulating the protein. The germ-free mice showed fewer symptoms and performed better on a series of motor skills tests meant to model the kinds of tests given to human patients.
However, the mice with the complete microbiome did begin accumulating the protein in their brain cells, and began showing brain damage in the regions that one would expect for a Parkinson’s patient.
Next the team fed both types of mice certain short-chain fatty acids that are commonly produced by bacteria in the gut. In other words, they were looking to see if even germ-free mice would show symptoms if the researchers mimicked gut bacteria activity.
And this time, the germ-free mice did show symptoms of the disease in the brain when fed the chemicals.
This suggested that the chemicals certain types of gut bacteria produce worsen conditions in the brain.
Finally, the team did a third experiment where they took samples of gut bacteria from human Parkinson’s patients and from healthy human controls and transplanted them into the germ-free mice that overexpressed alpha-synuclein. Remarkably, the mice began to exhibit symptoms. However, only the bacteria from the Parkinson’s patients caused symptoms in the mice. The germ-free mice given samples from healthy humans did not produce symptoms.”
Scientists find the third experiment most telling.
“At first pass, what this tells you is that it is not the presence or absence of bacteria that matters, it is the types of organisms that are there.”
Read the full article here. CNBC Article: Parkinsons linked to Gut Bacteria
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Gut Link to Parkinsons
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