For several decades, there has been a debate on whether there is a strong link between the advancement of Parkinson’s disease and certain toxic proteins found in the gut. New compelling evidence from a study led by scientists at Hopkins University has demonstrated that this may actually be the case.
The researchers unveiled how the aggregation of a toxic protein, often referred to as Lewy bodies and thought to cause the neurodegenerative disease, may originate in the gut and travel up to the brain via the vagus nerve. Scientists have long known these Lewy bodies could be found in the gastrointestinal tracts of Parkinson’s disease patients, but whether there was a connection between the two was still divisive in the field.
Now, the new study represents the most rigorous evidence produced to date, demonstrating that not only can these toxic proteins move from the gut to the brain but can also induce key pathological signs of Parkinson’s disease. The new model could allow researchers to test ways to halt Parkinson’s at different stages and develop new potential treatments for the devastating disease.