Research Now Links Parkinson’s Disease To Gut Bacteria

Parkinson’s disease researchers have followed other disease researchers into the promising arena of gut bacteria research. In a new study of patients with Parkinson’s disease, scientists compared their gut bacteria to that of healthy controls. Parkinson’s disease sufferers were found to have “distinctly different gut bacteria,” according to Medical News Today, which stated that the number of bacteria in our guts vastly outnumbers our bodies’ human cells.

The study was led by the University of Helsinki Institute of Biotechnology, and it is published in the medical journal Movement Disorders.

The new Parkinson’s research found that the guts of patients with Parkinson’s disease are virtually absent of one family of bacteria. Moreover, the more severe the Parkinson’s symptoms, the more likely the patients’ guts are to have increased amounts of another family of bacteria.

The study took 72 individuals with Parkinson’s disease and compared their gut bacteria to 72 healthy individuals. The researchers already had hints that there would be a link between problematic gut bacteria and Parkinson’s disease. In the recently published paper about the researcher’s findings, the authors write that “gastrointestinal dysfunction, in particular constipation, is an important non-motor symptom,” and added that research has already shown that gut bacteria actually interact naturally with areas of the nervous system. The interaction includes the “brain in the gut” or the enteric nervous system.

The bacteria that the Parkinson’s disease sufferers were lacking were from the Prevotellaceae family, which was well established in the guts of the control group individuals. The researchers aren’t sure which comes first: the disease or the absence of the friendly bacteria.

Likewise, they do not know if Parkinson’s is affected by the family of bacteria Enterobacteriaceae or if it affects it, but they know that it is found in greater numbers in the guts of Parkinson’s disease patients. The Enterobacteriaceae family includes well-known pathogens like Salmonella and Escherichia coli, according to Princeton University. Further research that is already being conducted will examine if the bacteria become more prominent in the gut as Parkinson’s disease progresses in patients.

“In addition,” the lead researcher explained, “we will have to see if these changes in the bacterial ecosystem are apparent before the onset of motor symptoms.”

Earlier, an Inquisitr article explained a strange phenomenon involving research that tested the efficacy of treating Parkinson’s disease with a placebo. The researchers looking into Parkinson’s disease and the link it shares with gut bacteria and overall gut microbiota hope that their discovery might lead to improve Parkinson’s disease treatments.

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