The role of gut dysbiosis in Parkinson's disease: mechanistic insights and therapeutic options

Brain. 2021 Oct 22;144(9):2571-2593. doi: 10.1093/brain/awab156.


Parkinson's disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder in which gastrointestinal symptoms may appear prior to motor symptoms. The gut microbiota of patients with Parkinson's disease shows unique changes, which may be used as early biomarkers of disease. Alterations in the gut microbiota composition may be related to the cause or effect of motor or non-motor symptoms, but the specific pathogenic mechanisms are unclear. The gut microbiota and its metabolites have been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease by regulating neuroinflammation, barrier function and neurotransmitter activity. There is bidirectional communication between the enteric nervous system and the CNS, and the microbiota-gut-brain axis may provide a pathway for the transmission of α-synuclein. We highlight recent discoveries about alterations to the gut microbiota in Parkinson's disease and focus on current mechanistic insights into the microbiota-gut-brain axis in disease pathophysiology. Moreover, we discuss the interactions between the production and transmission of α-synuclein and gut inflammation and neuroinflammation. In addition, we draw attention to diet modification, the use of probiotics and prebiotics and faecal microbiota transplantation as potential therapeutic approaches that may lead to a new treatment paradigm for Parkinson's disease.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; faecal microbiota transplantation; gut microbiota; neuro-inflammation; short-chain fatty acids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain-Gut Axis / drug effects
  • Brain-Gut Axis / physiology*
  • Dysbiosis / immunology
  • Dysbiosis / metabolism*
  • Dysbiosis / therapy*
  • Fecal Microbiota Transplantation / methods
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / immunology
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage


  • Prebiotics