Parkinson’s Disease Begins in the Gut, According to a New Study

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A new study argues that that Parkinson’s disease begins in cells encountered in the gut and travel to the brain. The researchers examined mice, and the results were quite significant since they offer a model which could facilitate the exploration of the disease according to one of the researchers who participated in the study.

It is known that the primary trait of Parkinson’s disease manifests in the form of the buildup of a protein known as alpha-synuclein in the cells of the brain. As more molecules appear, they will start to form agglomerations which force the nerve tissue to die, leading to large areas of dead brain matter.

As the number of Lewi bodies (the dead areas) increases, the person will face a series of impairment connected to the ability to move, control their emotions, or think rationally.

Parkinson’s Disease Begins in the Gut, And Then it Travels to the Brain

The new study was based on observations made by a previous study, which was published in 2003. That study mentioned that patients with Parkinson’s disease presented accumulations of altered alpha-synuclein in the regions of the central nervous system which handle the gut. Their presence is correlated with the appearance of select early Parkinson’s symptoms, among which we can count constipation. The connection between the nerves found in the gut and the brain has been compared with a ladder.

One of the critical subjects of the research was the ability of the altered protein to travel through the vagus nerve, which stars in the stomach and goes up to the base of the brain. To test their theories, they injected synthetic alpha-synuclein in the guts of healthy mice. The brain of the mice was examined at one, three, seven, and ten months after the injections were administered.

The results of the study inferred that the protein was able to travel through the vagus nerve and reach the brain of the mice, and there was a strong correlation with tests that aimed to observe the ability of the mice to explore a labyrinth box.