The following article is part of conference coverage from the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS) Virtual Annual Meeting. Neurology Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology. Check back for the latest news from the MDS 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting.

 

Medications used to treat Parkinson disease (PD) may change the composition of the gut microbiome, with a potential impact on biosynthesis and degradation of fatty acid and metabolism of vitamin family B, according to study results presented at the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS) Virtual Congress 2021, held from September 17 to 22, 2021.


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Previous studies have shown that medications used to treat PD are associated with alterations in the intestinal microbiota composition.

The objective of the current study was to determine the differences in the composition of the gut microbiota between drug-naive patients with PD and patients receiving PD medications.

The study sample included 30 drug-naive patients with PD, 33 medically treated patients with PD (29 with levodopa; 20 with a dopaminergic agonist), and 33 matched control participants. The 16S rRNA gene sequencing of DNA extracted from the stool was used to determine the composition of the gut microbiota, including calculations of α-diversity and β-diversity indices and analysis at the family and genus levels.

Compared with drug-naive patients with PD and control participants, medically treated patients with PD had higher α-diversity richness. Differences in β-diversity were significant between medically treated and drug-naive patients with PD, between those who received treatment with levodopa and those in who did not, and between those who received treatment with a dopamine agonist and those who did not.

At a genus level, in drug-naive patients with PD compared with medically treated patients with PD and healthy control participants, Phyllobacterium, Blautia, and Romboutsia were more abundant. Treatment with levodopa was associated with an increase in Lachnospira, Phreatobacter, Anaerotruncus species, while treatment with a dopamine agonist was associated with an increase in Bacteroides, Lachnospira, and Lachnoclostridium species.

Results from the analysis suggested that the changes in the gut microbiota may have an impact on biosynthesis and degradation of fatty acid and metabolism of vitamin family B.

“The anti-PD medications could change the microbial composition of patients [with PD]. Drug naive patients [with PD] present a relative increase of Blautia compared both to [healthy control participants] and [medicated PD], which is closely related to the production of [short-chain fatty acids]. [Dopaminergic agonists] might take part in fatty acid biosynthesis and vitamin family B metabolism while levodopa might influence fatty acid degradation,” the researchers concluded.

Reference

Zhang P, Huang P, Qian Y, et al. Do Parkinson’s disease medications have an effect on gut microbiome? A case-control study. Presented at: MDS Virtual Congress 2021; September 17-22, 2021. Abstract 1043.