Study shows link between microbiome in the gut and Parkinson's

March 3, 2017
Study shows link between microbiome in the gut and parkinson’s
Credit: Thinkstock.com

There is growing evidence showing a connection between Parkinson's disease—a neurodegenerative condition—and the composition of the microbiome of the gut. A new study from researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows that Parkinson's disease, and medications to treat Parkinson's, have distinct effects on the composition of the trillions of bacteria that make up the gut microbiome.

The findings were published in February in Movement Disorders, the journal of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

"Our study showed major disruption of the normal microbiome ¬— the organisms in the gut—in individuals with Parkinson's," said Haydeh Payami, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neurology, in the UAB School of Medicine.

Payami says, at this point, researchers do not know which comes first. Does having Parkinson's cause changes in an individual's , or are changes in the microbiome a predictor or early warning sign of Parkinson's? What is known is that the first signs of Parkinson's often arise as gastrointestinal symptoms such as inflammation or constipation.

"The human gut hosts tens of trillions of microorganisms, including more than 1,000 species of bacteria," she said. "The collective genomes of the microorganisms in the gut is more than 100 times larger than the number of genes in the human genome. We know that a well-balanced gut microbiota is critical for maintaining general health, and alterations in the composition of gut microbiota have been linked to a range of disorders."

Payami's team studied 197 patients with Parkinson's and 130 controls. Subjects came from Seattle, New York and Atlanta.

The study indicated that Parkinson's is accompanied by imbalance in the gut microbiome. Some species of bacteria were present in larger numbers than in healthy individuals; other species were diminished. Different medications used to treat Parkinson's also appear to affect the composition of the microbiome in different ways.

"It could be that, in some people, a drug alters the microbiome so that it causes additional health problems in the form of side effects," Payami said. "Another consideration is that the natural variability in the microbiome could be a reason some people benefit from a given drug and others are unresponsive. The growing field of pharmacogenomics—tailoring drugs based on an individual's genetic makeup—may need to take the microbiome into consideration."

The study subjects came from three regions, the Northeast, Northwest and South. Payami says the research team detected an unexpected difference in gut imbalance as a function of geographic site, which may reflect the environmental, lifestyle and diet differences between the three regions.

Another function of the microbiome is to help the body rid itself of xenobiotics—chemicals not naturally found in the body often arising from environmental pollutants. The study found evidence that the composition of bacteria responsible for removing those chemicals was different in individuals with Parkinson's. This may be relevant because exposure to pesticides and herbicides in agricultural settings is known to increase the risk of developing Parkinson's.

Payami says the study of the microbiome is a relatively new field, and a better understanding of macrobiotics may provide unexpected answers for Parkinson's disease and potentially other disorders.

"This opens up new horizons, a totally new frontier," she said. "There are implications here for both research and treatment of Parkinson's disease. Therapies that regulate the imbalance in the microbiome may prove to be helpful in treating or preventing the disease before it affects neurologic function." However, Payami cautions against grand conclusions until more data are available.

Payami says another study is underway at UAB with individuals with Parkinson's and healthy individuals in Alabama in an effort to replicate and confirm the results.

"The present findings lend support to the notion that the composition of the gut microbiome may hold new information for assessing efficacy and toxicity of Parkinson's medications," Payami said. "Additional studies are needed to assess the effects of those drugs, with larger numbers of treated and untreated patients as well as individuals who do not have Parkinson's."

Explore further: Parkinson's disease linked to microbiome

More information: Erin M. Hill-Burns et al. Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's disease medications have distinct signatures of the gut microbiome, Movement Disorders (2017). DOI: 10.1002/mds.26942

Related Stories

Parkinson's disease linked to microbiome

December 1, 2016
Caltech scientists have discovered for the first time a functional link between bacteria in the intestines and Parkinson's disease (PD). The researchers show that changes in the composition of gut bacterial populations—or ...

'FishTaco' sorts out who is doing what in your microbiome

January 19, 2017
A growing body of evidence indicates that the trillions of microbes that live on and inside our bodies affect our health. Collectively, these resident microbes form our microbiome.

What is the role of the gut microbiome in developing Parkinson's disease?

June 23, 2015
In recent years, an important Parkinson's disease (PD) research focus has been on gut-related pathology, pathophysiology, and symptoms. Gastrointestinal dysfunction, in particular constipation, affects up to 80% of PD patients ...

First drug for delusions in Parkinson's patients approved

April 29, 2016
Federal health officials have approved an experimental drug to treat psychotic delusions and behaviors that often afflict patients with Parkinson's disease, the debilitating movement disorder.

Researchers find link between gut bacteria and MS

June 27, 2016
If asked to list problems that bad gut bacteria can cause, most would likely name digestive issues: constipation, excessive gas, or diarrhea.

The effects of laxatives may provide new clues concerning Parkinson's disease

May 19, 2016
In a recent retrospective analysis, investigators discovered that the year-on-year increase in rigidity found in Parkinson's disease flattened off with the regular use of laxatives to manage constipation.

Recommended for you

Singing may be good medicine for Parkinson's patients

August 11, 2017
(HealthDay)—Singing? To benefit people with Parkinson's disease? It just may help, a researcher says.

Tracing the path of Parkinson's disease proteins

August 4, 2017
As neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease progress, misfolded proteins clump together in neurons, recruiting normal proteins in the cell to also misfold and aggregate. Cells in which this ...

Diabetes drug shows potential as disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson's disease

August 3, 2017
A drug commonly used to treat diabetes may have disease-modifying potential to treat Parkinson's disease, a new UCL-led study suggests, paving the way for further research to define its efficacy and safety.

Two new studies offer insights into gastrointestinal dysfunction in Parkinson's patients

July 31, 2017
Constipation is one of the most common non-motor related complaints affecting Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. Two important studies from the same research group published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease expand the ...

New drug may treat and limit progression of Parkinson's disease

July 31, 2017
Researchers at Binghamton University have developed a new drug that may limit the progression of Parkinson's disease while providing better symptom relief to potentially hundreds of thousands of people with the disease.

A new insight into Parkinson's disease protein

July 28, 2017
Abnormal clumps of certain proteins in the brain are a prominent feature of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases, but the role those same proteins might play in the normal brain has been unknown.

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PPihkala
not rated yet Mar 06, 2017
I think this study highlights the fact that treating patients should include treating also patient's gut microbiome. So doctors should know the whole and it's workings before trying to treat any one disorder.

Far too often doctors treat some illness for example with antibiotics without any consideration what that will do to gut microbiome. And in the worst case that illness is for example virus based flu, where the antibiotics do not any good, only harm the gut microbiome, maybe affecting the health of the patient years to come.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Mar 06, 2017
"The growing field of pharmacogenomics—tailoring drugs based on an individual's genetic makeup—may need to take the microbiome into consideration."

-So will an even faster growing field be pharmacomicrobiomics? Google says yes
https://www.ncbi....4086029/

-Honestly I thought I had made up a new word which shows why it is always good to check-
travispaul309
1 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2017


My grandma has Parkinson's disease, she is about 75 years old it was detected 7 years ago. it was very difficult to live for her, because of stiff muscles she can't even move. L-dopa and carbidopa medicines are given, but won"t give much relief. She can"t eat food and the skin is damaging forming ganglia.my friend introduced me to perfecthealthherbalmedicine,he said perfecthealthherbalmedicine cure his father of Parkinson and COPD,so i decided to give it a try,so i emailed them,they replied and ask for my grandma details,which i sent to them via email:(perfecthealthherbalmedicine @ gmail .com),website:(www. perfecthealthherbal. weebly. com).
travispaul309
1 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2017
then i purchased the herbal medicine for Parkinson diseases,after purchasing,the herbal medicine was shipped to my address,which i received within 2 days,when i received the herbal medicine i called them,and they told me how to use it,after 5 weeks of usage my grandma stiff muscles was released and she started walking,eat properly too,i was like a miracle,and our family doctor confirmed my grandma is Parkinson free,am so happy and God will bless perfecthealthherbalmedicinehome for their great work..

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.