Implications of the Gut Microbiome in Parkinson's Disease

Mov Disord. 2020 Jun;35(6):921-933. doi: 10.1002/mds.28004. Epub 2020 Feb 24.


Parkinson's disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder that presents with nonmotor and motor symptoms. The nonmotor manifestations of Parkinson's disease often begin years before the motor symptoms. Autopsy studies, including both Parkinson's disease patients and matched controls, demonstrated that α-synuclein aggregates in Parkinson's disease patients can be found in both the substantia nigra and the enteric nervous system. Therefore, it has been hypothesized that the pathological process that leads eventually to Parkinson's disease might initially take place in the enteric nervous system years before the appearance of motor features. The gut microbiome plays essential roles in the development and maintenance of different body systems. Dysbiosis of the normal gut microbiome is thought to be associated with pathophysiologic changes not only in the gastrointestinal system itself but also in the enteric and central nervous systems. These changes are thought to ultimately cause loss of dopaminergic neurons via various mechanisms including the release of neurotoxins into the systemic circulation, decreased production of neuroprotective factors, and triggering inflammatory and autoimmune responses. In this review, we review the gut microbiome changes in Parkinson's disease and discuss the mechanisms by which gut microbiome dysbiosis may be a contributing factor to the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease. © 2020 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: GM; PD; Parkinson's disease; gut microbiome; neuroinflammation; α-synuclein; α-synucleinopathy.

Publication types

  • Review