Scientists of the University of Groningen stated in a study that gut bacteria can affect the treatment of Parkinson’s disease by restricting the levels of levodopa.
This study was published in the Nature Communications journal on January 18th, 2019.
According to this study, bacteria in our gut lower down the effects of the medication given to the Parkinson’s patient.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a central nervous system disorder that affects movement. This disease causes tremors, slow movement, stiffness in body and loss of balance.
The patients suffering from PD are usually treated with Levodopa. Levodopa is one of the main drugs given to PD patients.
These drugs are absorbed in the small intestine and transmitted to the brain through the bloodstream. During the research, it was found that gut bacteria metabolize levodopa into dopamine.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in the brain. Dopamine is unable to cross the blood-barrier. Therefore, it lowers the drug’s effectiveness.
Sahar El Aidy, Assistant Professor in Microbiology and the lead investigator of the study said, “It is well established that gut bacteria can affect the brain. There is a continuous chemical dialogue between gut bacteria and the brain.”
El Aidy further said, “But the levels of levodopa that will reach the brain vary strongly among Parkinson’s disease patients, and we questioned whether gut microbiota were playing a role in this difference.”
Gut bacterias, also called microbiotas are the microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts such as intestine of the human and other animals.
It has been reported that intestinal bacteria also have a great impact on human health and diseases. The pain responses, immune system, brain development, stress, metabolism, or behavior are all associated with the microbiota disturbances.
PD affects 1% of the global population above 60 years of age. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. The patients of PD are given levodopa drug in combination with aromatic amino acid inhibitor.
One of the researchers of the study stated that the presence of the bacterial enzyme can explain why some patients need more frequent doses of levodopa to treat their disease. But an increased daily dosage given to treat the disease leads to many side effects including higher risks of dyskinesia.