Could Parkinson’s disease start in the gut?
Parkinson’s disease may start in the gut and spread to the brain via the vagus nerve, according to a study published in the April 26, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The vagus nerve extends from the brainstem to the abdomen and controls unconscious body processes like heart rate and food digestion.
The preliminary study examined people who had resection surgery, removing the main trunk or branches of the vagus nerve. The surgery, called vagotomy, is used for people with ulcers. Researchers used national registers in Sweden to compare 9,430 people who had a vagotomy over a 40-year period to 377,200 people from the general population. During that time, 101 people who had a vagotomy developed Parkinson’s disease, or 1.07 percent, compared to 4,829 people in the control group, or 1.28 percent. This difference was not significant.