Parkinson disease: the enteric nervous system spills its guts

Neurology. 2011 Nov 8;77(19):1761-7. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318236ef60.


Lewy pathology in Parkinson disease (PD) extends well beyond the CNS, also affecting peripheral autonomic neuronal circuits, especially the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS is an integrative neuronal network also referred to as "the brain in the gut" because of its similarities to the CNS. We have recently shown that the ENS can be readily analyzed using routine colonic biopsies. This led us to propose that the ENS could represent a unique window to assess the neuropathology in living patients with PD. In this perspective, we discuss current evidence which indicates that the presence of ENS pathology may by exploited to improve our understanding and management of PD and likely other neurodegenerative disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Enteric Nervous System / pathology
  • Enteric Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / innervation*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Lewy Bodies / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy