Providing resources and ideas for therapies and medical developments for Parkinson's disease:
The human intestinal tract is home to about 100 trillion bacteria (about 3 lbs) known as the microbiome. This gut microbiome plays a key role in developing and regulating our immune system. The interactions between the gut and surrounding nerves is being studied as it may be a pathway to the brain and affect the central nervous system. Both the presence and absence of bacteria have been found to be topics of interest for Parkinson's researchers. Lower levels of some gut bacteria may lower the protection from some environmental toxins and produce compounds that help fight inflammation. Studies are on-going to determine the levels of bacterial and chemical compound concentrations and their correlations to numerous disease states including Parkinson's. The bacteria which make up the microbiome are also essential for breaking down our food, generating endocrine/hormone activators, generating neurochemicals and teaching our immune system to recognize invading pathogens. The gut is also the general entry point for exposure to pesticides and herbicides and also impacts medication absorption. Our gut microbiome is affected by diet (anything we consume), pharmaceuticals, stress, environment and exercise. Constipation is also reported as one of the earliest Parkinson's disease symptoms and related to gut health. Probiotics have a direct effect upon the gut microbiome and has become a field of study for Parkinson's researchers.References:
While we have not found any research on effective human trials of probiotics and Parkinson's Disease, there has been some advancements made in the lab with transgenic worms. Transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans worms have had their DNA altered to have portions of their DNA resemble human DNA. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh use transgenic experimental subjects to more closely represent a human response to drug treatment. The results of the study show that the probiotic bacterium Bacillus subtilis PXN21 inhibits, delays, and reverses alpha-synuclein aggregation. Alpha-synuclein is the protein that when mis-folded, has neurotoxic properties which kills neurons, causing Parkinson's disease. This bacteria produces chemicals that change how enzymes in cells process specific fats called sphingolipids. This probiotic is available commercially from Amazon, Walmart or directly from the manufacturer.
See reference article Probiotic Bacillus subtilis Protects against α-Synuclein Aggregation in C. elegans or a brief layman's overview Gut bacteria could guard against Parkinson's
Another study by the University of Alabama released in 2017 showed that individuals with Parkinson's often had a gut microbiome that was different and was either affecting pesticides and chemicals ingested, differently or being affected differently by chemicals and pesticides. This is particularly relevant since exposure to herbicides and pesticides are known to increase the risk of developing Parkinson's. They also found that the uptake of Parkinson's medications, and thus their effectivity, was influenced by one's microbiome.Reference:
Research out of Aarhus University in Denmark points to Parkinson's as two separate diseases:
Brain-first Parkinson's: this variety of Parkinson's begins with the aggregation of alpha-synuclein in neurons of the brain and migrates to the peripheral autonomic nervous system. This variety of the disease is first characterized by tremors, gait disruption and freezing.
Body-first Parkinson's: this variety of Parkinson's begins in the peripheral autonomic nervous system (most likely the gut) and then travels to the brain via the vagus nerve. This variety of the disease is characterized by REM sleep behavior disorder and constipation (measured by colon volume and transit times) as the first signs of the disease pathology.
See Brain-first versus body-first Parkinson’s disease: a multimodal imaging case-control study (2020)