The study, utilizing the relatively new field of metagenomics, demonstrated an imbalance in the gut microbiome of patients with Parkinson’s disease.
New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham says the gut microbiome is involved in multiple pathways in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease. The findings, published in Nature Communications, show a wide imbalance in microbiome composition in persons with Parkinson’s disease. The study is the largest microbiome study conducted at the highest resolution.
The investigators employed metagenomics, the study of genetic material recovered directly from the stool microbiome of persons with PD and neurologically healthy control subjects.
ASAP is a basic research initiative fostering collaboration and resources to better understand the underlying causes of Parkinson’s disease. The second round of funding, announced Oct. 18, 2021, went to 14 teams with ties to 10 different countries. The teams are made up of 54 co‑investigators at 34 different research institutions. The grants total $132 million and are issued by ASAP’s implementation partner, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Human genes have an impact on shaping our gut ecosystem. A large, international study by the MiBioGen consortium, led by the University Medical Center Groningen, analyzed the common genetic factors that influence the composition of the human gut microbiome in more than 18,000 people. The results were published Jan. 18 in the leading scientific magazine Nature Genetics. Haydeh Payami, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neurology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Zachary Wallen, a postdoctoral fellow in the Payami laboratory, were collaborating authors on the study.
Parkinson’s disease is a common, progressive and debilitating neurodegenerative disease. It currently cannot be prevented or cured.
In 2003, Heiko Braak proposed that non-inherited forms of PD are caused by a pathogen in the gut. He hypothesized that the pathogen could pass through the intestinal mucosal barrier and spread to the brain through the nervous system. Up to now, there has been no evidence of a specific pathogen that may trigger PD.
Now Haydeh Payami, Ph.D., professor of neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues report for the first time a significant overabundance of a cluster of opportunistic pathogens in the guts of persons with PD, compared to control subjects.
Just ten years ago the human body was assumed to be largely sterile. Today, molecular technologies have revealed complex microbial ecosystems in nearly every human organ/niche. These microbiome communities persist in blood, tissue, the brain, the liver, the amniotic fluid, the placenta and beyond.
There is growing evidence showing a connection between Parkinson’s disease — a neurodegenerative condition — and the composition of the microbiome of the gut. A new study from researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows that Parkinson’s disease, and medications to treat Parkinson’s, have distinct effects on the composition of the trillions of bacteria that make up the gut microbiome.
The findings were published in February in Movement Disorders, the journal of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
The genome-wide association study published in Nature Genetics was conducted by the NeuroGenetics Research Consortium, an international team of researchers led by Haydeh Payami. The finding of association of the immune regulating genes (HLA) with Parkinson’s disease, and its subsequent validation world-wide, cemented the role of the immune system in the root of Parkinson disease, opening the gates to a now very active field in PD research. The discovery suggests some forms of Parkinson’s disease could be triggered by infectious agents or unknown factors that send the immune and inflammatory response into overdrive.
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