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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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Researchers To Develop Novel Therapy For Treating Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers developing new therapy to treat Parkinson's disease

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10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay
10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay

Cell replacement may play an increasing role in alleviating the symptoms such as movement problems and memory loss of Parkinson’s disease (PD), researchers say.

The most common PD treatment today is based on enhancing the activity of the nigrostriatal pathway in the brain with dopamine-modulating therapies, thereby increasing striatal dopamine levels and improving motor impairment associated with the disease.

However, this treatment has significant long-term limitations and side effects.

“We are in desperate need of a better way of helping people with PD. It is on the increase worldwide. There is still no cure, and medications only go part way to fully treat incoordination and movement problems,” said Claire Henchcliffe, MD, from Weill Cornell Medicine in the US.

Parkinsons
Parkinson’s is caused by a lack of dopamine made by brain cells. (IANS)

Recent strides in stem cell technology mean that quality, consistency, activity, and safety can be assured, and that it is possible to grow essentially unlimited amounts of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the laboratory for transplantation, said a study, published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

“We are moving into a very exciting era for stem cell therapy. The first-generation cells are now being trialed and new advances in stem cell biology and genetic engineering promise even better cells and therapies in the future,” said Malin Parmar, postdoctoral candidate from the Lund University in Sweden.

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“There is a long road ahead in demonstrating how well stem cell-based reparative therapies will work, and much to understand about what, where, and how to deliver the cells, and to whom,” said Parmar. (IANS)