A new study revealed a connection between Parkinson’s disease and the gut bacteria population. The California Institute of Technology’s paper suggests that harmful bacteria could trigger the disease. As its name suggests, the neurodegenerative condition originates in the brain. At least this is what scientists believed until recently.
A team of researchers performed a series of tests on lab mice. They injected different individuals with both healthy as well as harmful gut bacteria. The scientists gathered bacteria populations from patients suffering from Parkinson’s prior to the experiments.
After closely analyzing the results, the team of researchers noticed that mice injected with harmful bacteria started to display abnormal behavior. As a result, the scientists recorded extensive deterioration of the motor functions.
Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian is the lead author of the study. He says that by experimenting on lab mice, the team was able to prove that the disease can have other origins than the brain. Furthermore, he believes that by identifying another cause of the disease could lead to more efficient treatment. Or even ways to prevent the condition altogether.
Experiments Involving Gut Bacteria
Dr. Mazmanian has disclosed to the press the steps of the experiments. In the beginning, the scientists specifically modified the mouse models in order to develop the disease. For the mice population to develop Parkinson’s, they had to produce abnormal levels of alpha-synuclein. The researchers associate this particular component to the brain damage present in Parkinson’s patients.
The second step of the experiment involved gathering gut bacteria samples from human subjects suffering from the disease. Hence, the researchers collected fecal samples from Parkinson’s patients. They later injected the second mice population with the samples.
After a while, the scientists were able to discover that the second mice population developed more symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. Before making public the results, the team also noted that the mice populations were identical, genetically speaking. However, the population infected with gut bacteria from human subjects displayed more abnormalities than the other one.
One of the explanations Dr. Mazmanian offers is that gut bacteria is responsible for breaking down fiber into fatty acids. The scientists believe that the harmful bacteria releases specific chemicals during the breakdown process which makes the brain cells go into overdrive. Ultimately, this leads to damage in the brain and sets off Parkinson’s.
Even though the evidence seems compelling, Dr. Mazmanian says that the scientists have to spend more time looking into the matter. However, even at the stage, the team of researchers strongly believes that their discovery opened up new possibilities. Also, the scientists believe that if future studies will support the latest discoveries, doctors could use probiotics as treatment for Parkinson’s.
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