Washington, May 23 (IANS) The gut bug responsible for ulcers could also play a role in bringing on Parkinson's disease.
"Our findings suggest that H. pylori infection could play a signficant role in the development of Parkinson's disease in humans," says Traci Testerman of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Centre, Shreveport, who led the study.
Physicians have noted a correlation between stomach ulcers and Parkinson's disease as far back as the 1960s, before it was even known that H. pylori caused ulcers.
In Guam, a study of why some populations had a high risk of developing a Parkinson's-like disease discovered that a specific compound in cycad seeds eaten by these populations was neurotoxic, according to a Louisiana statement.
The compound, which resembles a cholesterol with an attached sugar group, is almost identical to a compound produced by H. pylori.
Testerman and her colleagues developed an animal model to more effectively understand the role of H. pylori and its modified cholesterol in Parkinson's disease.
They infected young and aged mice with three different strains of the bacteria and monitored their locomotor activity and dopamine levels in the brain. Mice infected with one of the strains showed significant reductions in both.
"The results were far more dramatic in aged mice than in young mice, demonstrating that normal aging increases susceptibility to Parkinsonian changes in mice, as is seen in humans," says Testerman.
"Our mouse model demonstrates a direct effect of H. pylori infection on the development of Parkinson's disease," says Testerman.
These findings were presented at the 111th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.