Could the stomach ulcer bug, Helicobacter pylori, cause Parkinson’s disease ?

helicobacter burning down the bridge between the substantia nigra and corpus leuteumParkinson’s disease develops when the bridge connecting two bits of the brain, collapses, preventing dopamine from getting where it needs to be, to keep movement smooth.

What takes out the bridge is still not clear.

Bad genes make the bridge weak, but it takes something to knock the bridge out.

Researchers suggest the fire breathing monster (Helicobacter pylori), which burns holes in the gut causing an ulcer, might also be responsible for burning down the bridge between the substantia nigra and corpus striatum.

Stomach ulcer Parkinson connection

Back in the 1960s, doctors noticed stomach ulcers and Parkinson’s often went hand in hand. In those days, stomach ulcers were thought to be a stress problem, not a bug problem.

Helicobacter pylori infection gives mice the shakes

Researchers from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Centre found that if they infected middle-aged mice, with a particular strain of Helicobacter pylori, the mice developed symptoms of Parkinson’s disease a few months later.

Guam cycad seeds and the bug

A number of chemicals have been implicated in the destruction of the substantia nigra bridge. Top of the list are a couple of pesticides, but these don’t have an obvious connection to Helicobacter pylori.

But a chemical in cycad seeds does.

It was noticed that some populations in Guam have a very high rate of a Parkinson’s like disease. When these populations were studied, it was found that they included the seeds of a cycad in their diet. The seeds turned out to be neurotoxic. The chemical causing all the trouble sort of looked a bit like a cholesterol molecule, with a sugar attached.

Guess who else can make this very same chemical – Helicobacter pylori.

Helicobacter’s toxic by-product

The researchers set about testing whether the Helicobacter pylori by-product, could be responsible for the damage to the dopamine neurons.

This time, instead of infecting the mice with the bug, they removed the bacteria, but fed them the modified cholesterol molecule which the bacteria was producing.

The mice developed the shakes.

HP burning the bridge

Helicobacter is clearly able to not only burn a hole in the stomach, but it can burn a hole in the brain too, if it has the right tools. Fortunately, not all strains have the equipment to allow them to burn the bridge.

Protect your brain bridges by keeping the monster underwraps.

NOTE : If you’re suffering from Parkinson’s disease, chat to your doctor about testing for Helicobacter pylori infection. If it is lurking in your gut, zapping it, might slow progression of the disease. 

Press release from American Society for Microbiology

Subscribe to E-spoons, to get e-mail updates once a month.

NOTE : Privacy & spam policy. Spoonful of Science will not rent, trade or sell the e-mail list to anyone. You can unsubscribe at any time by following the unsubscribe link.

Know someone who will find this post useful ? Share it on facebook, linkedin, twitter

Further reading


cells lining stomach being burnt because of aspirin gut bacteria controlling brain bacteria leaving a stressful situation 
Watch out, aspirin burns holes in your stomach  How do you plead ? Not guilty – my bacteria made me do it…  Stress eruptions cause gut residents to flee 

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below…..

This entry was posted in Bacteria and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Trackback

  1. By » Blog Archive » Round up 8 Aug – 12 Aug on August 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    [...] Could the stomach ulcer bug, Helicobacter pylori, cause Parkinson’s disease ? [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>