Finnish study finds link between antibiotic exposure and Parkinson’s disease

November 29, 2019

Around 10 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a condition which affects the area of the brain related to movement; its patients also stand to develop symptoms of depression, sleep disruption, urinary difficulties and constipation, among others.

As scientists seek to better the disease outcome, new research by researchers at Finland’s Helsinki University Hospital (HUH-HUS) suggests that the use of oral antibiotics ups the risk of PD due to the drugs’ impact on gut microbes. The discovery comes after earlier research that found that people with the disease often have altered gut microbes – changes in the gut can occur almost 2 decades before diagnosis.

The researchers, led by Dr. Filip Scheperjans, a neurologist at HUH, carried out a case-control study using nationwide medical data from 1993-2014. The analysis compared antibiotic exposure in some 13,970 people who received a PD diagnosis with that of another 40,690 controls who did not report the condition. The team also categorised antibiotic exposure according to dosage, chemical composition, mechanism of action, and antimicrobial range.

Exposure to macrolides- and lincosamides-based antibiotics, which are commonly prescribed to fight a range of microbial infections, were seen to have the strongest links to a raised PD risk. The results also revealed risks of PD for some other antibiotics, such as anti-anerobics and tetracyclines, where gut alterations were apparent up to 15 years before diagnosis.

Dr. Filip Scheperjans commented that, in addition to the problem of antibiotic resistance, future antimicrobial prescribing practices should consider their potentially long-lasting effects on a patients’ gut microbiome.

Category: Education, Features

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