Parkinson’s attacks the mind, body, and the spirit. Hope treats all three.
- Gordon Adai
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. One out of every 100 people over the age of 60 develops PD, a number which will only rise as the average life span increases. 
Symptoms of Parkinson’s
Many signs of Parkinson’s disease are commonly recognized and visible to other people. These include tremors, slowed movement, muscle rigidity, problems with posture and balance. Other symptoms are less evident. Constipation and anxiety that are related to PD can begin occurring years before other symptoms appear.
Limited treatments exist, which target symptoms of the disease, but there is currently no cure available.
PD is related to inhibited dopamine production. PS128 has been shown to modulate dopamine levels in preclinical models. Therefore, scientists tested whether or not PS128 could benefit mice with reduced dopamine production and resulting movement disability. Positive results, as described below, have led to clinical study of Parkinson’s patients given PS128.
Study on Mice with PD-like Symptoms
One group of mice were injected with MPTP, a molecule that destroys dopamine-producing neurons. This mimicked the necrosis of these cells as seen in the etiology of Parkinson’s disease, consequently inducing PD symptoms. One portion of these MPTP mice was fed PS128 daily and a second was given a saline placebo. Another cohort was not given MPTP but received only PS128, while a final control group was given only saline. The experiment lasted 28 days.
Research confirmed that treatment with PS128 resulted in dopaminergic neuron protection, effectively preventing the pathophysiological damage like that seen in Parkinson’s. The psychobiotic enhanced the mice’s physical activity and coordination and ameliorated their movement and balance disorders.
Dopamine neural cells were protected.
Dopaminergic neurons congregate in the brain’s substantia nigra region. When they die, dopamine levels in the brain decrease, triggering PD symptoms such as tremors or loss of balance. In order to identify a change in the number of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of mice that had developed Parkinson’s-like symptoms, researchers visually observed the amount of tyrosine hydroxylase, a dopamine-synthesizing enzyme, which had been marked with fluorescent dye.
In the mice exposed to MPTP with only saline treatment, significantly fewer dopaminergic neurons remained, in contrast to relatively high numbers of neurons in those that were treated with PS128. The psychobiotic was shown to effectively protect neuron cells responsible for dopamine production.
Movement speed and control increased.
In experimental mice, MPTP induces PD-like symptoms such as slow movement and balance impairment. During the pole-climbing experiment, test mice climbed from the top down to the bottom of a pole. Their activity level and speed were recorded, with normal mice taking less than 10 seconds to complete the task. The MPTP mice with only saline treatment climbed down sluggishly, their limbs uncoordinated, taking around 40 seconds to reach the bottom, while their PS128-treated counterparts took on average only 15 seconds. The test showed that PS128 can improve mobility and grip strength, reversing MPTP-induced sluggishness.
Balance was improved.
Normal mice can cross a narrow beam 100 cm long in under 10 seconds. During the experiment, the MPTP-saline cohort walked unsteadily, their limbs weak and tails unable to assist in maintaining balance. As a result, they spent more than 30 seconds crossing the beam. On the other hand, the MPTP mice that received PS128 moved with ease, tails lifted high, crossing steadily in less than 20 seconds. PS128 has the potential to improve movement and balance disorders.
 Tysnes, O. B., & Storstein, A. (2017). Epidemiology of Parkinson's disease. Journal of neural transmission (Vienna, Austria : 1996), 124(8), 901–905.