The chronic, degenerative Parkinson’s disease is well known to be a disorder of the brain, but new findings suggest that the origin of the disease may actually lie in your digestive tract – travelling to your brain via the vagus nerve. The vagus, or ‘wandering’, nerve is a cranial nerve which synapses with your gut, one of its function being parasympathetic control on gut function. Communication through this nerve is a two way street, both travelling from brain to the gut and vice versa.
A registry study of nearly 15,000 individuals who have had their vagus nerve connection to their gut severed, once a common treatment for ulcers, found that those with a totally severed connection were well protected in contrast to those without. Those with partially severed nerves did not receive the same protection however.
Parkinson’s begins many years before symptoms arise, but many patients report digestive issues in the years before diagnosis. The exact cause and mechanism of transmission through the vagus nerve is not yet defined, but the study provides strong evidence that this particular route may be a key factor in developing the disease. Whilst perhaps not the sole cause, this is an important step in understanding the pathology of the crippling disease.
Read more at Neuroscience News