Conference Coverage

Probiotics improve nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson’s


AT MDS 2023

COPENHAGEN – Giving patients with Parkinson’s disease and constipation a probiotic for 3 months improved not only their gut microbiome but also nonmotor symptoms such as sleep, fatigue, and constipation, results of a new randomized trial show.

Participants taking the probiotic also saw a reduced delay in “time to on” of treatment with levodopa, thus reducing the delay until effectiveness of the treatment, said study presenter Valentina Leta, MD, PhD, department of neurosciences, King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.

Dr. Leta presented the findings at the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.

“Virtually every person with Parkinson’s might have some degree of gastrointestinal dysfunction, and virtually the entire tract might be affected, from the mouth to the rectum,” Dr. Leta told attendees of the congress.

A number of different mechanisms have been associated with this gastrointestinal dysfunction, she noted, including proinflammatory changes in the gut microbiota, so a modulatory intervention “could be a therapeutic strategy for Parkinson’s disease.”

However, “despite numerous preclinical studies showing potential beneficial effects on a variety of pathological mechanisms involved in Parkinson’s disease, the clinical evidence is limited ... to the treatment of constipation,” she explained.

The team therefore conducted a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, in which patients with both Parkinson’s disease and constipation, based on the Rome IV criteria, were randomly assigned to receive a probiotic or placebo for 3 months.

The probiotic used was a liquid formulation (Symprove) and contained four strains: Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactiplantibacillus plantarum.

A total of 74 patients were randomly assigned to the two study arms. The two groups were well matched for sociodemographics, Parkinson’s disease, and constipation-related characteristics, Dr. Leta reported, and only 3 patients in each arm discontinued the study. The probiotic intervention had a “good tolerability and safety profile, with a similar number of adverse events between the two groups, and no serious adverse events.”

Increase in healthy bacteria

The study met its primary outcome of changes in gut microbiome at the end of the 12-week intervention, as measured on shallow shotgun sequencing.

The probiotic was associated with a “statistically significant increase of the abundance of bacteria which are known to have beneficial health related properties, such as Odoribacteraceae,” Dr. Leta said.

This bacterium is “known to be reduced in people with Parkinson’s disease,” she explained, “and is involved in the production of short-chain fatty acids, which are known to have beneficial health-related properties.”

The secondary endpoint of the study included changes in motor and nonmotor symptoms, and the probiotic was associated with a significant improvement in the “time to on” with levodopa treatment, shortening this period from an average of 31.43 minutes at baseline to 23.95 minutes at the postintervention assessment (P < .027).

There was also a significant improvement in the Non-Motor Symptoms Scale (NMSS) score between baseline and the postintervention assessment in patients given the probiotic, from 70.71 to 61.34 (P = .005).

This, Dr. Leta observed, was “driven by improvements in the sleep, fatigue, and gastrointestinal domains.”

No such significant improvements were observed in the placebo arm.


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