Scientists have acquired a new understanding of Parkinson Disease as new research has shown that a direct link may exist between the disease and the microbiome.
The new study was carried out at the California Institute of Technology as part of the Microbiology and Heritage Medical Research Center.
The results of their research were published in the Cell journal on December 1.
Parkinson’s Disease is an affection which is believed to affect more than 10 million people at a global level. Parkinson is believed to affect about a million people in the United States alone.
It has come to be considered the second most common neurodegenerative affection, behind dementia and its most frequent subtype, Alzheimer’s Disease.
The most characteristics symptoms of Parkinson involve tremors and walking difficulties. These also come with the presence of cytokines or inflammatory molecules in the brain.
Research has also shown that about 75 percent of the Parkinson patients also have gastrointestinal health problems, the most common being constipation.
Sarkis Mazmanian, one of Caltech’s microbiologists and study co-lead, went to explain. The microbiome, which is found in the gut, is the name given to the useful and also potential harmful good bacteria.
The microbiome and its diversity are very important in the development and working of both the immune and the nervous systems.
According to Mazmanian, 70 percent of the non-brain or spinal cord peripheral nervous system is in the intestines. The vagus nerve connects them to the central nervous system.
Observations have established that most gastrointestinal problems precede the appearance of Parkinson’s by a number of years.
Also, as most such problems are believed to be environmentally determined, scientists were led to the supposition that the microbiome may play a role in Parkinson.
In order to test their theory, the researchers carried out a series of tests on mice that presented signs of Parkinson’s Disease.
The mice were split into two groups, with one of the groups possessing a complex, varied microbiome. The other group was specially bred in a sterile environment so as to lack gut bacteria.
During the experiment, the mice were put to several motor skills tests such as crossing a beam, running on a treadmill or descending a pole.
Results showed that the mice which lacked gut bacteria had a significantly better performance and results as compared to the other group.
According to Timothy Sampson, the study’s lead author and a biology and biological engineering postdoctoral scholar, that was the decisive moment.
As the two groups of mice were bred to be almost genetically identical, the only difference was the presence or absence of the gut bacteria.
Further studies revealed that these gut bacteria were important not only in the appearance but also in the regulation of the Parkinson’s Disease symptoms and manifestation.
As tests showed, even the mice free of gut bacteria started showing signs of Parkinson after microbiome from the other mice was transferred to them.
Further studies are required so as to better understand the relation between the gut bacteria and its relation to Parkinson’s Disease.
However, this discovery could significantly change the way in which the disease is treated. Most neurodegenerative affections are thought to be related and as such are treated with brain medication.
As such, the new study could offer a simpler, safer treatment method for Parkinson.
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