October 18, 2023 12:20 pm
October 18, 2023 1:10 pm
University of California - Irvine
Accumulation of α-synuclein protein aggregates in brain neurons is thought to result in Parkinson’s disease. Despite the clear impact that this disease has on the brain, it seems that the disease as well as α-synuclein aggregates may originate somewhere else—in the gut. Each person’s gut houses trillions of bacteria. Our data show that these gut bacteria start a domino-effect that can cause aggregation of α-synuclein in intestinal cells that natively express this protein. Emerging from our discovery of molecular-level mechanisms detailing how gut bacteria cause α-synuclein aggregation, we identified diet-derived small molecules that inhibit formation of α-synuclein aggregates in intestinal cells. Our discoveries suggest that microbiome-targeted treatments may be developed to slow progression of Parkinson’s disease or even stop the disease in the gut before it impacts the brain.