Parkinson’s disease and diet: Nutritional intervention reveals 'clear therapeutic benefits'

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Researchers say this is the first study demonstrating a clear therapeutic effect of specific dietary interventions in a mouse model for Parkinson’s disease. ©iStock
Researchers say this is the first study demonstrating a clear therapeutic effect of specific dietary interventions in a mouse model for Parkinson’s disease. ©iStock

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A new study has demonstrated how dietary interventions with omega-3, prebiotics and other nutrients can help improve motor functions and cognition after the onset of Parkinson's disease in mice.

Academics previously reported the benefits of a diet rich in uridine and DHA in mice when consumed before Parkinson’s disease was induced.

But now they also appear to have shown benefits when taken four weeks after the onset of the disease.

“In the present study we examine the therapeutic potential of the same dietary intervention in the intrastriatal rotenone mouse model of Parkinson’s disease given after the development of full motor symptoms, i.e., 4 weeks after rotenone injection, to elucidate if the diet has neurorestorative properties,”​ they wrote in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

For the study, mice were fed the standard animal food for laboratory rodents, with the Diet 1 group also given Uridine monophosphate and fish oil, providing DHA (0.74/100 g diet) and EPA (0.29/100 g diet).

Those given Diet 2 received the same as Diet 1, along with choline, phospholipids, selenium, folic acid, and vitamins B6, B12, C, D, and E. The fish oil in Diet 2 provided DHA (0.75/100 g diet) and EPA (0.50/100 g diet). They also received prebiotic fibres.

The researchers found that Diet 1 provided a number of benefits to mice induced with Parkinson’s.

“Diet 1, given after the occurrence of motor problems, was able to reduce motor dysfunction, grip strength loss, cognitive deficits, delayed intestinal transit, colonic inflammation, and alpha-synuclein accumulation,”​ researchers wrote.

“This is the first study demonstrating a clear therapeutic effect of specific dietary interventions in a mouse model for Parkinson’s disease.”

Furtermore, the extended nutritional intervention in Diet 2 was even more effective in normalising rotenone-induced motor and non-motor abnormalities.

Neurorestorative properties 

While the diets did not affect the rotenone toxicity – which was used to induce the disease - the diets helped to improve the functioning of the remaining dopaminergic neurons, demonstrating that they have neurorestorative properties and therefore may have disease-modifying potential.

The researchers suggested the addition of prebiotic fibres in Diet 2 may have contributed to its better effects on intestinal transit and colonic inflammation compared to Diet 1, and possibly also to the beneficial effects on motor and cognitive functioning.

They also pointed out that a full suite of nutrients was likely to be more beneficial that single nutrients, or incomplete diets.

“Together these data suggest that especially the combined intake of these nutrients, rather than the use of single component supplements, could be beneficial to maintain brain structure and function,”​ they wrote.

Source:Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00057

“Promising Effects of Neurorestorative Diets on Motor, Cognitive, and Gastrointestinal Dysfunction after Symptom Development in a Mouse Model of Parkinson's Disease”

Authors: Aletta D. Kraneveld, et al.

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