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Parkinson’s Disease may be linked to Changes in Gut Bacteria and it can even cause Deterioration of Motor Skills: Scientists

When the gut bacteria break down dietary fibre, they produce molecules called short-chain fatty acids or SCFAs

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Exercise is the new Prescription for Parkinsons Disease, VOA

Los Angeles, December 3, 2016: For the first time, scientists have showed that Parkinson’s disease may be linked to changes in the gut bacteria and it can even cause the deterioration of motor skills that is the hallmark of the disorder.

Up to 10 million people worldwide is affected by Parkinson’s disease (PD), making it the second most common neurodegenerative disease.

According to PTI, Sarkis Mazmanian, California Institute of Technology in the US said, “The gut is a permanent home to a diverse community of beneficial and sometimes harmful bacteria, known as the microbiome, that is important for the development and function of the immune and nervous systems.”

“Because GI problems often precede the motor symptoms by many years, and because most PD cases are caused by environmental factors, we hypothesised that bacteria in the gut may contribute to PD,” he said.

Parkinson’s disease have symptoms like tremors, difficulty walking, aggregation of a protein called alpha-synuclein (aSyn) within cells in the gut and brain, and the presence of inflammatory molecules called cytokines within the brain. 75 per cent of people with PD have gastrointestinal (GI) abnormalities, primarily constipation

Researchers utilised mice to display symptoms of Parkinson’s.

According to PTI, “One group of mice had a complex consortium of gut bacteria; the others, called germ-free mice, were bred in a completely sterile environment and thus lacked gut bacteria.”

The researchers used both the groups of mice perform several tasks in order to measure their motor skills, such as running on treadmills, descending from a pole and crossing a beam.

The germ-free mice performed significantly better than that of the mice with a complete microbiome.

“Once you remove the microbiome, the mice have normal motor skills even with the overproduction of aSyn,” Sampson said.

“All three of the hallmark traits of Parkinson’s were gone in the germ-free models,” Sampson said.

When the gut bacteria break down dietary fibre, they produce molecules called short-chain fatty acids or SCFAs, such as acetate and butyrate.

Earlier research has shown that these molecules can activate immune responses in the brain. Therefore, Mazmanian’s group hypothesised that an imbalance in the levels of SCFAs regulates the brain inflammation and other symptoms of PD.

So, when germ-free mice were fed SCFAs, cells called microglia – which are immune cells residing in the brain-became activated.

In fact, such inflammatory processes can cause neurons to malfunction or even die.

When the germ-free mice fed SCFAs they showed motor disabilities and aSyn aggregation in the regions of the brain linked to the PD.

– by NewsGram team with PTI inputs

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Skin Exposure to UVB Radiation Can Alter Gut Bacteria in Humans

In a new clinical pilot study, researchers tested the effect of skin UVB exposure on the human gut microbiome

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It is likely that exposure to UVB light somehow alters Gut Bacteria in the immune system in the skin initially, then more systemically, which in turn affects how favourable the intestinal environment is for the different bacteria. Pixabay

Skin exposure to UVB (Ultra Violet-B) radiation from the Sun can alter the gut microbiome in humans — possibly via vitamin D which can help explain the protective role of UVB in inflammatory diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Sun exposure, vitamin D levels and the mix of bacteria in our gut are each associated with risk of inflammatory conditions like MS and IBD, said scientists from University of British Columbia.

Exposure to UVB in sunlight is well-known to drive vitamin D production in the skin, and recent studies suggest that vitamin D alters the human gut microbiome.

However, that UVB, therefore, causes gut microbiome changes, via vitamin D production, has so far been shown only in rodents.

In a new clinical pilot study, researchers tested the effect of skin UVB exposure on the human gut microbiome.

Healthy female volunteers were given three, one-minute sessions of full-body UVB exposure in a single week.

Before and after treatment, stool samples were taken for analysis of gut bacteria – as well blood samples for vitamin D levels.

Skin UVB exposure significantly increased gut microbial diversity, but only in subjects who were not taking vitamin D supplements.

“Prior to UVB exposure, these women had a less diverse and balanced gut microbiome than those taking regular vitamin D supplements,” reported Professor Bruce Vallance, who led the University of British Columbia study.

“UVB exposure boosted the richness and evenness of their microbiome to levels indistinguishable from the supplemented group, whose microbiome was not significantly changed”.

Published in Frontiers in Microbiology, the analysis suggests that vitamin D mediates the change — which could help explain the protective effect of UVB light in inflammatory diseases like MS and IBD.

Gut
Skin exposure to UVB (Ultra Violet-B) radiation from the Sun can alter the Gut microbiome in humans — possibly via vitamin D which can help explain the protective role of UVB in inflammatory diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Pixabay

The largest effect was an increase in the relative abundance of “Lachnospiraceae” bacteria after the UVB light exposures.

This indicates that vitamin D at least partly mediates UVB-induced gut microbiome changes.

The study is not designed to show the exact mechanism by which the microbiome changes occur, but both UVB and vitamin D are known to influence the immune system.

READ MORE: Here’s How Lipid in Human Body Can Help to Control Diabetes

“It is likely that exposure to UVB light somehow alters the immune system in the skin initially, then more systemically, which in turn affects how favourable the intestinal environment is for the different bacteria,” suggests Vallance.

The results have implications for people who are undergoing UVB phototherapy, said scientists. (IANS)