Prebiotics may decrease the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). The corresponding study was published in Nature.
Studies show that intestinal microbiota may influence PD symptoms, progression, and treatment success. While there is no specific microbiota signature among patients with PD, studies show that they tend to have a pro-inflammatory intestinal microbiome, which is linked to neuroinflammation and leaky gut.
Leaky gut is a symptom of PD that happens when certain bacteria linked to the condition damage the intestinal lining. This then allows bacteria and toxins to enter the bloodstream, and results in symptoms like constipation.
In the current study, researchers sought to see how prebiotics- which help good bacteria grow in the gut- influence the gut microbiome in those with PD. To do so, they recruited 20 patients with PD for an open-label, non-randomized dietary study. While 10 were newly diagnosed and had not received any prior treatment, 10 had PD for some time and were actively receiving treatment.
Both groups consumed prebiotic bars for ten days- one bar per day for the first three days, and then one bar twice per day on the remaining days. The prebiotic bars contained 10 grams of fiber each from sources including rice bran, inulin, resistant maltodextrin and resistant starch. The researchers collected blood and stool samples before and after the intervention.
In the end, they found that consuming prebiotic bars was linked to decreased gastrointestinal symptom severity for patients with more advanced PD. They further noted that the bars were well-tolerated and safe, and that they were linked to beneficial changes in microbiota and inflammatory markers.
The researchers noted that the patients in the study reported feeling full and eating less food while eating the prebiotic bars. In a follow-up study, they would thus like to investigate other ways of including prebiotics in the diet, such as some sort of supplement instead. They also noted that their findings provide the scientific rationale for placebo-controlled trials of prebiotic fibers in patients with PD.