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Gut microbe mix may spark Parkinson’s

In mice, brain inflammation, motor problems linked to intestinal bacteria

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2:48pm, December 1, 2016
mouse microglia

GUT IMPULSE Signals from gut microbes can activate immune cells called microglia (shown here in green) in the mouse brain, causing inflammation that’s characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.

For clues to Parkinson’s brain symptoms, a gut check is in order.

Intestinal microbes send signals that set off the disease’s characteristic brain inflammation and motor problems in mice, researchers report December 1 in Cell. Doctors might someday be able to treat Parkinson’s by fixing this bacterial imbalance.

“It’s quite an exciting piece of work,” says John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland who wasn’t involved in the study. “The relationship between the brain and gut for Parkinson’s has been bubbling up for many years.” The new research, he says, “brings the microbiome really into the forefront for the first time.”

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