The microbiome is a hot topic in Parkinson’s disease (PD). The microbiome is the network of microorganisms, along with viruses and bacteria, that help the body stay healthy. In the PD community, when we talk about the microbiome, we’re referring to the bacteria found in the gut. Leading experts have suggested that the microbiome has a potential role in the pathogenesis (way a disease develops) and in the treatment of Parkinson’s. This has sparked the idea that we might be able to improve PD symptoms if we change the microbiome through diet or other ways.
In experiments with rats, scientists have shown that when nerve cells in the gut are exposed to certain bacteria, it may trigger protein-clumping similar to the clumping found in Parkinson’s disease (PD). The results suggest a possible way in which the protein clumping in PD might begin. The study appears in the October 6 online edition of Scientific Reports.
Considerable evidence has been mounting supporting a relationship between the gastrointestinal system and Parkinson’s disease. Many pathologists and neurologists believe that Parkinson’s disease may start in the gut, however this view remains speculative. Additionally, there are many GI symptoms such as constipation that occur as prominent and disabling features of Parkinson’s disease.
The discovery that a bug in the gut called H. Pylori could underpin gastrointestinal disease and also ulcer formation was one of the most important in modern GI medicine. Why however, would H. Pylori infection be relevant to Parkinson’s disease patients, especially if 2 out of every 3 people on the planet carry the bug in their guts. It turns out that if left untreated H. Pylori may affect the absorption of Parkinson’s disease medications, and consequently affect the overall response to treatment. In this month’s What’s Hot in PD? column we will explore H.