Study suggests that gut fungi are not associated with Parkinson's disease

January 21, 2021

Amsterdam, NL, January 21, 2021 - The bacterial gut microbiome is strongly associated with Parkinson's disease (PD), but no studies had previously investigated he role of fungi in the gut. In this novel study published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, a team of investigators at the University of British Columbia examined whether the fungal constituents of the gut microbiome are associated with PD. Their research indicated that gut fungi are not a contributing factor, thereby refuting the need for any potential anti-fungal treatments of the gut in PD patients.

"Several studies conducted since 2014 have characterized changes in the gut microbiome," explained lead investigator Silke Appel-Cresswell, MD, Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre and Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and Division of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia. "Most existing studies, however, employ bacterial-specific sequencing. To date, a potential role for the fungal constituents of the gut microbiome, also known as the "mycobiome," has remained unexplored."

In order to investigate whether the fungal constituents of the gut microbiome are associated with PD researchers enrolled 95 PD patients and 57 controls from the Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre (PPRC) at the University of British Columbia. Participants provided a single fecal sample and completed a two-hour study visit during which their PD symptoms were assessed.

Analysis determined that the fungal microbiome in PD did not essentially differ from that of matched controls, and there were no strong associations between gut fungi and PD symptoms.

Fungi were very sparse among participants' fecal microbiomes. After filtering, 106 of the 152 participants (64/95 PD and 42/57 control) remained for downstream compositional analysis; the remainder had virtually no detectable fungal genomic content. Most of the genera identified were environmental or dietary in origin.

Saccharomyces was by far the most dominant fungal genus detected. Although these investigations did not reveal any significant role for gut fungi in PD, interestingly, lower overall fungal abundance (relative to bacteria) in the PD gut were observed, which might reflect a less hospitable environment of the gut in PD.

This paper plays an important role by answering the call by the PD research community and funding organizations to publish negative results, crucial to avoid investing precious research funding into likely futile endeavors and providing a more balanced reflection of data in the field.

"The data are an important piece in the puzzle of understanding the overall role of the gut microbiome in PD," continued Dr. Appel-Cresswell. "PD patients can rest assured that gut fungal overgrowth, or dysbiosis, is likely not a contributing factor to any of their PD symptoms, both motor and non-motor."

"The gut microbiome in PD continues to be an exciting field of research where we are just at the beginning of unraveling potential mechanisms. It will be important to publish negative results as well as positive findings along with detailed methods to have a realistic reflection of the data in the literature to accelerate discovery," she concluded.

PD is a slowly progressive disorder that affects movement, muscle control, and balance. It is the second most common age-related neurodegenerative disorder affecting about 3% of the population by the age of 65 and up to 5% of individuals over 85 years of age. In recent years, more attention has been given to the gut as a key player in the initiation and progression of PD.
-end-


IOS Press

Related Fungi Articles from Brightsurf:

Invisible fungi revealed by their genetic material
How can new life forms that we cannot see be discovered?

Producing leather-like materials from fungi
Leather is used as a durable and flexible material in many aspects of everyday life including furniture and clothing.

Breaking down wood decomposition by fungi
Through a combination of lab and field experiments, researchers have developed a better understanding of the factors accounting for different wood decomposition rates among fungi.

Impulse for research on fungi
For the first time, the cells of fungi can also be analysed using a relatively simple microscopic method.

Fungi as food source for plants
The number of plant species that extract organic nutrients from fungi could be much higher than previously assumed.

Bark beetles control pathogenic fungi
Pathogens can drive the evolution of social behaviour in insects.

Using fungi to search for medical drugs
An enormous library of products derived from more than 10,000 fungi could help us find new drugs.

Plants and fungi together could slow climate change
A new global assessment shows that human impacts have greatly reduced plant-fungus symbioses, which play a key role in sequestering carbon in soils.

Make fungi think they're starving to stop them having sex, say scientists
Tricking fungi into thinking they're starving could be the key to slowing down our evolutionary arms race with fungal pathogens, as hungry fungi don't want to have sex.

How plants react to fungi
Using special receptors, plants recognize when they are at risk of fungal infection.

Read More: Fungi News and Fungi Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.