Purpose of review: The purposes of this review were as follows: first, to provide an overview of the gut microbiota and its interactions with the gut and the central nervous system (the microbiota-gut-brain axis) in health, second, to review the relevance of this axis to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, and, finally, to assess the potential for microbiota-targeted therapies.
Recent findings: Work on animal models has established the microbiota-gut-brain axis as a real phenomenon; to date, the evidence for its operation in man has been limited and has been confronted by considerable logistical challenges. Animal and translational models have incriminated a disturbed gut microbiota in a number of CNS disorders, including Parkinson's disease; data from human studies is scanty. While a theoretical basis can be developed for the use of microbiota-directed therapies in neurodegenerative disorders, support is yet to come from high-quality clinical trials. In theory, a role for the microbiota-gut-brain axis is highly plausible; clinical confirmation is awaited.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Antibiotics; Fecal microbiota transplantation; Gut-brain axis; Microbiome; Microbiota; Neurodegenerative diseases; Parkinson’s disease; Probiotics.