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2021 Q2 Review:
Parkinson’s & the Gut 
by Martha Carlin


Time is flying and it is time for another update on Gut-Brain research and Parkinson’s. I continue to be very excited and inspired by the ongoing research into the Gut-Brain connections to Parkinson’s Disease.  Early in the quarter I was fortunate to be a speaker at Parkinson’s Association of the Rockies annual conference.  My topic was Parkinson’s and the Gut Microbiome. You can see a replay of the presentation here on the PAR YouTube Channel.  


I am changing my format for this quarter to include instructions for any of you that might be interested in searching the research yourself and testing to see if there is any research on an area you think may be connected to Parkinson’s, or any other illness for that matter.  We find that many people with Parkinson’s have more than one chronic disease.  The most common are issues with blood sugar (Diabetes) and cholesterol (Heart Disease).  


I use this as my primary tool for search for the quarterly research papers to discuss.  While NCBI/PubMed doesn’t contain very paper published, it is a wonderful tool and will include the most widely respected scientific journals.  


This quarter has been interesting on a number of fronts. My company, The BioCollective, has been working with an artificial intelligence company in Poland to analyze our Parkinson’s microbiome datasets. We have identified some potential biomarkers and are working on our first publication. I will be doing some blog posts on our findings in the coming months. In reviewing the papers from 2Q 2021 I was pleased to see some research that connects to what we are seeing in our data.


The neuromicrobiology of Parkinson’s disease: A unifying theory Researchers from Portugal discuss potential microbial triggers as facilitators and aggravators in PD. I really like the way this paper goes through the long history of different bacteria and viruses associated as triggers of PD. One of the more interesting sections is the discussion regarding Mitochondrial dysfunction and PD. Mitochondria are evolutionary descendants of Proteobacteria. In the final comments they sum up where they see the research leading connecting microbial triggers and PD.


“The most recent data clearly point to the fact that either microbial infections, bacterial or mitochondrial toxins or gut dysbiosis may independently trigger PD, and that perturbations of some essential cellular processes such as mitochondrial function may be common facilitators, and finally that the spread of Asyn aggregation produced as an antimicrobial or antimitochondrial agent of innate immunity to the brain may most likely culminate in PD neurodegeneration.”

The Add-On Effect of Lactobacillus plantarum PS128 in Patients With Parkinson's Disease: A Pilot Study  This is a clinical study in Parkinson’s patients. I’ve received several emails and phone calls about a new probiotic targeted to PD, called Solace. This is a study using the strain of bacteria used in Solace which has positive results in improved UPDR scores in the patient population. I’m excited to see probiotics being tested as possible adjunct therapies. Lactobacillus plantarum is one of the species of probiotic bacteria that The BioCollective has focused attention on developing.

Inflammatory bowel disease and Parkinson's disease: common pathophysiological links  Recent population studies have shown that inflammatory bowel disease might increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease. This review highlights recent findings such as the connection to LRRK2, including discuss of supporting and conflicting data.  Science is the process of seeking answers so it is helpful to understand that there are often conflicting outcomes in research. 


Probiotic Clostridium butyricum ameliorated motor deficits in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease via gut microbiota-GLP-1 pathway  This particular strain of potential probiotic bacteria is also being studied at the University of Colorado as a potential adjunct Parkinson’s therapy. In this study the researchers looked to understand the mechanism of action of these bacteria. The research points to GLP-1 pathway. This is a pathway related to insulin secretion providing yet another connection to the potential importance of insulin resistance and sugar metabolism in connection to PD. You can read my blog post on glucose metabolism and the brain here.  

The volume of research connecting the gut to our overall health, the brain and neurodegeneration continues to grow. It is exciting to see the pace of discovery.  The growing research provides many opportunities for adjunct therapies and I believe will some day provide us with the underlying causal factors such that PD, in its various manifestations, can be cured, as well as halted in its tracks before it happens. 

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