Parkinson’s May Start in the Gut: Study

A new study suggests gut bacteria is linked to Parkinson’s disease.

Neurological experts have long believed that the incurable disease, which causes tremors and stiffness, was caused by a buildup of protein in the brain. But a study published in the journal Cell indicates is may begin in the gut, the New York Post reports.

That could explain why Parkinson’s patients typically experience digestive issues, such as constipation or bloating.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology, led by Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian, took fecal samples from the patients and transplanted them into mice with Parkinson’s symptoms and found they worsened.

Mice that received samples from healthy patients remained the same.

“This was the ‘eureka’ moment,” said Dr. Timothy Sampson, a member of the research team.

Nearly three-quarters of neurons outside a person’s brain live in the intestines, and are connected to the brain through the central vagus nerve. The findings showed that irregularities in the gut’s bacteria could contribute to or cause Parkinson’s.

About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year.