Poor early life environment leaves permanent mark on adult brain
When they used a probiotic containing the bacterium Bacillus subtilis , things started to look brighter. The bacteria could form biofilm in the worm gut, releasing their own metabolic products. The results were impressive – both young and older animals benefited from the use of this probiotic.
For one thing, this organism kept the abnormal clumps from appearing. Not only so, where the clumps had already been formed, it seemed to remove some of them from the cell. This led to a more favorable clinical profile in the worm. For instance, their movements became smoother and easier. How it happens
When the researchers looked at how this occurred, they saw that the bacteria produced its own chemicals that cleared and prevented alpha-synuclein formation. Their chemicals caused an alteration in the way the cell enzymes actually processed sphingolipids in the nerve cells. The change in the metabolism of these fats transformed the fate of the cells, so to speak. Researcher Maria Doitsidou says, “The results provide an opportunity to investigate how changing the bacteria that make up our gut microbiome affects Parkinson's.”
The researchers also saw that the best time to give the probiotic is in childhood, because this produced the most long-term action. When the worms were fed B. subtilis continuously, hardly any protein clumps formed, in contrast. Both dead and live bacteria, as well as spores, seem equally protective. The supplementation of nitrous oxide (NO) to the diet also had a favorable but short-lived effect. The probiotic is not therefore dependent on the colonization of the gut with B. subtilis but by the metabolites it produces. Implications
“The next steps are to confirm these results in mice, followed by fast-tracked clinical trials since the probiotic we tested is already commercially available,” say the researchers.
Parkinson’s UK research manager Beckie Port commented: “Parkinson's is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. Currently there is no treatment that can slow, reverse or protect someone from its progression but by funding projects like this, we're bringing forward the day when there will be.”
While many studies have proved the link between gut microbes and brain development and function, other scientists believe that more research is needed to make use of probiotics to improve gut health, and thus to alleviate PD or even delay its symptoms.
Summing up, Beckie Port says, “The results from this study are exciting as they show a link between bacteria in the gut and the protein at the heart of Parkinson's, alpha synuclein. Studies that identify bacteria that are beneficial in Parkinson's have the potential to not only improve symptoms but could even protect people from developing the condition in the first place.” Journal reference:
Probiotic Bacillus subtilis protects against a-synuclein aggregation in C. elegans. Marıa Eugenia Goya, Feng Xue, Cristina Sampedro-Torres-Quevedo, et al. Cell Reports30, 367–380.e1–e7, January 14, 2020. https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/pdf/S2211-1247(19)31743-7.pdf
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