Parkinson’s Disease Pathogenesis may have a Bacterial Virus Component According to Research Conducted by Human Microbiology Institute

Full study data published in Scientific Reports

NEW YORK, July 17, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Human Microbiology Institute (HMI), a not-for-profit scientific research organization, and Tetz Laboratories today announced the publication of a study in Scientific Reports that for the first time may implicate bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The article, entitled “Parkinson’s disease and bacteriophages as its overlooked contributors” is available online here:

Changes in the gut microbiome have previously been associated with a variety of human diseases, including inflammatory conditions and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. Research for the first time has suggested that Lactococcus bacteriophages lead to an alteration in abundance of certain gut bacteria that have profound effects on the enteric nervous system, resulting in changes in neurotransmitter production. In addition, altered microbiota can lead to increased intestinal permeability resulting in systemic inflammation; both of these conditions are known as important triggers of PD.

Research at HMI was the first to identify bacteriophages as potentially new human pathogens, which has the potential to create new opportunities to treat and diagnosis of phage-associated diseases. The studies demonstrated that bacterial viruses are intrinsically involved in many complex diseases with unknown etiology, by different ways including protein misfolding. Humans are constantly exposed to bacteriophages, which can enter the body through interaction with the environment and the consumption of water and food. HMI has demonstrated that bacteriophages can impact the gut microbiota in ways that promote disease and, therefore, should be a target for more extensive research.

This newly-published study evaluated a published genomic data set to analyze differences in bacteriophage composition and the microbiome in 31 treatment-naïve (tissue samples obtained before initiation of L-DOPA therapy), early-stage PD patients and 28 control individuals. Bacteria and phages were identified using metagenomics analysis and a unique algorithm for bacteriophages identification developed by the authors of the research. The key results were:

  • Bacteriophages caused a depletion of several gut microbiome species in the PD patients compared to the control group. The most pronounced change was a 10-fold decrease in Lactococcus. Reduction of Lactococcus is particularly relevant, as they are known to be a source of microbiota-derived neurochemicals including dopamine and reductions in prevalence are associated with increased gut permeability.
  • Unlike the control group, patients with PD had elevated levels of strictly virulent, lytic Lactococcus phages that caused a significant shift in relative abundance of Lactococcus bacteria.
  • Researchers concluded that bacteriophages altered the microbiota of patients, leading to functional shifts that may be implicated in the pathogenesis of PD.

“We have already published five studies demonstrating that bacteriophages can impact the gut microbiome in ways that could cause disease,” said George Tetz, head of the R&D department of the HMI. “In this study, we demonstrated that differences in the relative abundance of the microbiome in PD patients differs from healthy controls and this difference can be associated with changes in the relative abundance of bacteriophages. We believe that bacteriophages should be included as a previously overlooked factor associated with the development of PD. This opens the discussion for the use of bacteriophages as a novel therapeutic target as well as a diagnostic tool for patients with Parkinson’s disease.”

About The Human Microbiology Institute
The Human Microbiology Institute (HMI), founded in 2015 by pioneers in phagobiome research father and son Victor and George Tetz, is an independent, not-for-profit research organization HMI performs breakthrough research for the public interest that results in novel translational approaches to medicine. HMI is addressing some of society’s biggest medical challenges and unmet medical needs in such areas as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, metabolic disorders, various cancers, age-related infectious diseases, spreading of antibiotic resistance, etc.

HMI Contact:
George Tetz, M.D., Ph.D.

Media Contact:
Joanna Zimmerman
The Ruth Group