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Research projects

Exploring the probiotic and postbiotic effect of Akkermansia muciniphila on intestinal barrier function in patients with Parkinson's disease - applying Ussing chambers and electron microscopy techniques

About this project

Project information

Project status

In progress


John-Peter Ganda-Mall

Research environments

Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and mainly affects older people with a degeneration of motor-controlling nerve components in the brain.

Most patients with PD also suffer from gastrointestinal problems in the form of constipation and gastropareses, sometimes several years before PD is diagnosed. Studies on PD regarding a possible disturbance in the communication between the gut and the brain (gut-brain axis) are few, but it seems that both the gut's immune cells and nerve cells can play an important role in the development of the disease. An increased intestinal permeability (reduced barrier function), sometimes called leaky gut, can in turn be the cause of increased immune activation and the characteristic stomach symptoms found in PD patients.

Akkermansia muciniphila is a common bacterium of the intestinal microbiota and has been shown to have some beneficial probiotic properties. We have preliminary findings showing that it can protect against increased intestinal permeability when intestinal tissues are exposed to stress-induced barrier damage in healthy control subjects. However, it has an unclear role in PD and we want to investigate its effect on intestinal permeability in intestinal tissue from PD patients.

If A. muciniphila has a protective effect against barrier damage, it could possibly dampen immune cell activation in the intestinal mucosa and improve gastrointestinal symptoms. But we know that probably not everyone will respond to treatment with it and it is therefore important to find out which underlying mechanisms determine responders from non-responders. To try to answer this, we will, among other things, study the intestinal mucosal ultrastructure with our collaborator Dr. Javier Santos and his group at Vall'd Hebron Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain

Physiology and Pathophysiology of the Digestive Tract

ESPEN Research Fellowship Grants

Research groups

Research funding bodies

  • The European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism