Swallowing a drug can tilt the gut-brain axis, alleviating the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. Yet the axis can resist tilting as though its orientation were maintained by hidden sources of inertia. Suspected inertial dampeners include gut microbes. Although gut microbes have been thought to metabolize and lessen the efficacy of levodopa, the primary drug treatment for Parkinson’s, the species responsible have eluded detection.
One such species, however, was recently identified by scientists based at Harvard University. Combing through data from the Human Microbiome Project, the scientists homed in on Enterococcus faecalis. This bacterium absorbs levodopa, and it possesses an enzyme that can convert levodopa to dopamine. What’s more, E. faecalis has a partner of sorts, Eggerthella lenta. This bacterium converts dopamine into meta-tyramine. This compound may contribute to some of levodopa’s side effects.
Read more at Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News