Gut microbes promote α-synuclein-mediated motor deficits and brain pathology in mice.
An article published in Cell has demonstrated, in mice, that intestinal microbiota influence neurological development and are a contributor to neurodegenerative disorders.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder affecting approximately 53 million people globally, making it the second most common behind Alzheimer’s dementia. The most common symptoms are bradykinesia, rigidity and tremor, often a person will also go on to develop a cognitive impairment or dementia. Symptoms are very different from person to person however on average symptoms usually progress over 15 years from independent to dependent on carers.
The symptoms of PD are caused by death of dopamine excreting cells in the substantia nigra within the basal ganglia. The cells die as a result of an abnormal accumulation of the protein alpha-synuclein which accumulates within neurones called Lewy bodies.
Traditionally research for neurological studies have always investigated the CNS itself, now thoughts are changing to peripheral mechanisms and how your body as a whole can affect onset and progression on neurological impairments. One of these mechanisms is thought to be around the importance of the neural connection between your gut and brain.
Using genetically modified mice which were genetically programmed to produce high levels of alpha-synuclein they investigated the influence of different gut biomes on development of symptoms of PD. Germ-free mice and mice with a normal biome remained healthy. However those with a transplanted biome from a human with PD developed symptoms of the disease.
To be clear the only different between the mice was the presence of different bacteria in the gut.
In conclusion the authors say:
Our findings establish that the microbiota are required for the hallmark motor and GI dysfunction in a mouse model of PD, via postnatal gut-brain signaling by microbial molecules that impact neuroinflammation and αSyn aggregation.
These findings could ultimately begin to alter the way neurodegenerative conditions are managed. Probiotics could be the way forward.
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