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Funded Studies

Dietary Interventions to Slow and Improve Parkinson’s Symptoms by Restructuring the Gut Microbiome and Decreasing Inflammation

Study Rationale:
There is a link between the gut and the brain in Parkinson’s disease (PD), and gut bacteria may play an important role. Gut bacteria they affect the bowel mucus barrier, produce poisonous chemicals, and stimulate inflammation. People with PD can have changes in gut bacteria with an increase of potentially bad bacteria. These changes may contribute to symptoms such as severe constipation and may play a role in progression of the disease through increased inflammation. Special diets, like fiber-rich diet or addition of resistant starch (a form of fiber), support a healthy microbiome in the gut. Therefore, “healing the gut microbiome” might improve symptoms and quality of life in people with PD and may even slow disease progression.

Hypothesis:
Special diets rebuild the gut microbiome and decrease inflammation in people with PD. This leads to improved symptoms, raises quality of life and might even slow disease progression.

Study Design:
We will separate study participants with PD into three dietary groups. Either they stick to their usual eating habits (controls); they change to a high-fiber/vegetarian diet; or they add resistant starch (a form of fiber) to their main meals. We will take stool samples to measure the gut microbiome and blood samples to measure inflammation. We will document signs of PD as well as quality of life. This main part of this pilot study will take two weeks. For some participants, we will extend the study to one year to evaluate impact on disease progression.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
Our results will help doctors to give “evidence-based” diet recommendations, an often-unmet need in patient care. Our results may also help researchers to better understand the relevance of the gut-brain-axis in PD.

Next Steps for Development:
If our study shows promising results, we would like to share these results with doctors for integration into patient care. A larger study to confirm these findings may be warranted as well. Additionally, we may look for certain microbiome patterns that help to identify PD or prognose disease progression.


Researchers

  • Brit Mollenhauer, MD

    Kassel and Goettingen Germany


  • Paul Wilmes, PhD

    Luxembourg Luxembourg


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