Parkinson’s disease sufferers have a different microbiota in their intestines than their healthy counterparts, according to a study conducted at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital. Researchers are now trying to determine what the connection between intestinal microbes and Parkinson’s disease is.
“Our most important observation was that patients with Parkinson’s have much less bacteria from the Prevotellaceae family; unlike the control group, practically no one in the patient group had a large quantity of bacteria from this family,” states DMSc Filip Scheperjans, neurologist at the Neurology Clinic of the Helsinki University Hospital (HUCH).
The study was published in Movement Disorders, the Clinical Journal of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
The researchers have not yet determined what the lack of Prevotellaceae bacteria in Parkinson’s sufferers means – do these bacteria perhaps have a property that protects their host from the disease? Or does this discovery merely indicate that intestinal dysfunction is part of the pathology? “It’s an interesting question which we are trying to answer,” Sheperjans says.
Another interesting discovery was that the amount of bacteria from the Enterobacteriaceae family in the intestine was connected to the degree of severity of balance and walking problems in the patients. The more Enterobacteriaceae they had, the more severe the symptoms.