The Gut and Parkinson's Disease-A Bidirectional Pathway.
Front Neurol. 2019 ;10:574. Epub 2019 Jun 4. PMID: 31214110
Susanne Fonseca Santos
Humans evolved a symbiotic relationship with their gut microbiome, a complex microbial community composed of bacteria, archaea, protists, and viruses, including bacteriophages. The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a gateway for the bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut, mostly through the vagus nerve (VN). Environmental exposure plays a pivotal role in both the composition and functionality of the gut microbiome and may contribute to susceptibility to neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease (PD). The neuropathological hallmark of PD is the widespread appearance of alpha-synuclein aggregates in both the central and peripheral nervous systems, including the ENS. Many studies suggest that gut toxins can induce the formation ofα-syn aggregates in the ENS, which may then be transmitted in a prion-like manner to the CNS through the VN. PD is strongly associated with aging and its negative effects on homeostatic mechanisms protecting from inflammation, oxidative stress, and protein malfunction. In this mini-review, we revisit some landmark discoveries in the field of Parkinson's research and focus on the gut-brain axis. In the process, we highlight evidence showing gut-associated dysbiosis and related microbial-derived components as important players and risk factors for PD. Therefore, the gut microbiome emerges as apotential target for protective measures aiming to prevent PD onset.