Intestinal imbalance may cause Parkinson’s disease, Brazilian studies show

Two recently published Brazilian scientific articles suggest that an imbalance in the intestine can influence the development of neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Parkinson’s disease. Depending on the results, the condition may originate earlier in the Enteric nervous system — responsible for controlling the motility of the gastrointestinal tract — before progressing to the brain.

The first article was developed by the team of the National Laboratory of Biosciences (LNBio), in Campinas, and published last month in the journal iScience. In the meantime, the second article has been published in Scientific reportsand produced with the support of the Fundação de Amparo at Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (Fapesp).

The groups point out that gut dysbiosis (a clinical condition that occurs when the gut microbiota suffers from a bacterial imbalance) is often seen in patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

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Gut imbalance can cause Parkinson’s disease, study finds (Image: Twenty20photos/Envato)

As the work indicates, some intestinal cells contain a protein called a-synuclein, which has a direct relationship to Parkinson’s disease. These cells connect by synapse with neurons and thus form a neural circuit between the gastrointestinal tract and the enteric nervous system, which can trigger the neurodegenerative disease.

Scientists analyzed a specific bacteria called Akkermansia muciniphila, capable of aggregating the protein a-synuclein in intestinal cells. They then realized that when intestinal cells were cultured with neurons, the a-synuclein protein could be transferred from one type of cell to another.

In other words, this protein can then migrate to the central nervous system, configuring a possible mechanism for the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

Source: iScience, Scientific reports

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