Parkinson’s and Gut Bacteria Study May Show Us How Much We Still Don’t Know

by Chris Centeno, MD /

parkinson's and gut bacteria

My dad had a movement disorder similar to Parkinson’s disease, but far worse (Diffuse Lewy Body). It’s an awful problem. If you read this blog, you know I love when medicine gets caught with its proverbial pants down. Or as a gifted New York Times writer once said, a “Naked in Times Square moment.” Why? Because I believe we’re just beginning to exit the dark ages in medicine. Sure we’ve improved from leeches and bloodletting, but most of our progress has come in conquering infectious disease and some of the big things that can kill us young. As a medical community, we really haven’t made much progress in conquering chronic disease, pain, or other things that can disable us as we age or just make us nonfunctional. So it was with a chuckle and a smile that I recently reviewed a new paper that turns the world of Parkinson’s research on its proverbial head by drawing a connection between Parkinson’s and gut bacteria.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disease that has no cure, and worsens over time. Treatments can help manage it, but as the disease becomes more advanced, treatments become less effective. Its primary effect is on the body’s motor system, and symptoms can vary, but common presenting symptoms include tremors, rigidity, and slow movements. Symptoms gradually become more extreme and can include slurred speech, dementia, and lack of expression. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation estimates about 1 million people in the United States suffer from Parkinson’s disease with over 60,000 newly diagnosed cases each year.

While we know the basic cause of Parkinson’s (progressive degeneration of nerve cells in an area of the brain known as the substantia nigra), we don’t really know why this happens. When the nerve cells become impaired, this leads to a decrease in dopamine production. Without proper dopamine levels, movements lack control, resulting in the common symptoms of Parkinson’s. Additionally, in Parkinson’s patients, there is a build up of Lewy bodies, an abnormal protein, found in the nerve cells. Theories of how the nerve cells get injured in the first place include everything from genetics to environmental toxins to traumatic injuries.

The New Research on Parkinson’s and Gut Bacteria That May Change Everything We Thought We Knew

Cell Volume 167, Issue 6, p1469–1480.e12

The new study on Parkinson’s disease suggests that it may actually start in the gut first and move to the brain from there. The evidence is in the gut bacteria, which seems to be different in Parkinson’s patients. In recent years, damaging fibers found in the nerves in the brain of Parkinson’s patients have also been found in their gut. In this new study, some mice were injected with bacteria from the guts of Parkinson’s patients while others were injected with bacteria from the guts of healthy patients. The mice receiving the gut bacteria from Parkinson’s patients rapidly deteriorated. The other mice did not. The scientists concluded that while more research needs to be done, “these findings reveal that gut bacteria regulate movement disorders in mice and suggest that alterations in the human microbiome represent a risk factor for PD.”

Other Diseases and Problems Linked to Abnormal Gut Bacteria

There has been a lot published in recent years on the importance of the good bacteria in your gut. Good gut bacteria helps defend your body, functioning like a second immune system and killing off bad bacteria. They also consume calories, helping to control weight.

A lot has also been published on the many things that can increase bad bacteria and disrupt that delicate gut balance. Examples include poor diet and medications, such as antibiotics, and recently artificial sweeteners have also been shown in mice to alter gut balance, causing hyper-insulin secretion, or pre-diabetes. In extreme cases, antibiotics can cause the bad bacteria such as Clostridium difficile (C.difficile), a hard-to-treat infection, to build up and make patients very sick.

One research finding that really concerns me is the effect gut bacteria may have on stem cells. A bad diet can create more of that abnormal gut bacteria as this bad bacteria thrives on the unhealthy foods we eat. This can cause a leaky gut, and, in turn, have a negative impact on the stem cells in fat. This leaky gut can lead to metabolic syndrome, and with it, obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation, and even allergies.

The upshot? This new study finding links between Parkinson’s and gut bacteria demonstrates that your gut bacteria may have profound impacts on everything from your brain to your immune system. While this study will have to be repeated and tied to humans, if validated, it may alter forever how we treat Parkinson’s. In particular, fecal microbiota transplant (FMT, or transferring a healthy person’s good gut bacteria to a patient’s gut) may be a viable therapy. The drug companies and the Pharma-University-FDA industrial complex are going to hate that one! In the meantime, maintaining a healthy gut bacteria composition may be critical. You can get yours checked at a company I’ve used (and have no relationship with) at this link. You also might want to consider a good probiotic (this is the one I take, again I have nothing to do with this company).

Category: Latest News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “Parkinson’s and Gut Bacteria Study May Show Us How Much We Still Don’t Know

  1. kathryn

    From what I have read, “The researchers hope the new information can be used to develop “next generation” probiotics, more sophisticated than the sort of probiotics found on the shelves of health food stores today. ” Specifically, Prevotella Histicola is the microbe that is found to be lower in Parkinson’s patients. Do you know how this particular supplement could be attained?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Kathryn,
      There appears to be a patent application, but it does not appear to be commercially available at this time.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
View Profile

Get Blog Updates by Email

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
Select Your Problem Area
Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Other Degenerative Conditions & Overuse Injuries
Learn More
Cervical Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Knee

Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
  • Knee ACL Tears
  • Knee Instability
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
Learn More
Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More
Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
Learn More
Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Hip Sprain, Tendonitis or Inflammation
  • Hip Instability
Learn More
Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2019. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.