Does gut microbiota influence the course of Parkinson's disease? A 3-Year prospective exploratory study in de novo patients

Roberto Cilia, Marco Piatti, Emanuele Cereda, Carlotta Bolliri, Serena Caronni, Valentina Ferri, Erica Cassani, Salvatore Bonvegna, Carlo Ferrarese, Anna L. Zecchinelli, Michela Barichella, Gianni Pezzoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although abnormalities in gut microbiota are hypothesized to influence the pathogenesis and clinical phenotype of Parkinson's disease (PD), prospective studies on de novo patients are lacking. Objective: To preliminarily investigate whether gut microbiota in early untreated PD may predict motor and non-motor features progression over a 3-year period. Methods: 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicons were sequenced on fecal samples of 39 de novo PD patients. Multiple confounders were taken into account, including dietary habits. Motor and non-motor symptoms were assessed using validated scales at baseline and followed-up yearly for 3 years. At last follow-up, a detailed neuropsychological assessment was additionally performed. A general linear model for repeated measurements-adjusted by dopaminergic therapy at followup-was used to investigate the relationship between bacterial taxa abundance at baseline (stratified by the median of distribution at baseline) and outcome variables. Results: Twenty-five patients were included (11 refused, 2 lost at follow-up, 1 died). Lower abundance of Roseburia (Firmicutes phylum) at baseline was associated with worse evolution of motor, non-motor and cognitive functions at 3-year follow-up. Similarly, lower abundance of Ruminococcaceae and Actinobacteria at baseline was associated with faster worsening of global cognitive functions. At follow-up, frontal lobe functions were the features most robustly associated with baseline microbial abnormalities. Conclusion: In the present exploratory study on de novo PD, we found an association between abnormal distribution of specific bacterial taxa and the progression of motor and non-motor features over a 3-year period. This proof-of-principle study supports the design of a larger observational study aiming to determine whether these differences survive multiple-comparison correction and define microbiota-specific subgroups suitable for therapeutic targeting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-170
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Parkinson's Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • De novo
  • Gut microbiota
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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