Gut-brain axis is widely implicated in the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease (PD). We take an integrated approach to considering the gut as a target for disease-modifying intervention, using continuous measurements of disease facets irrespective of diagnostic divide.
We characterised 77 participants with diagnosed-PD, 113 without, by dietary/exogenous substance intake, faecal metabolome, intestinal inflammation, serum cytokines/chemokines, clinical phenotype including colonic transit time. Complete-linkage hierarchical cluster analysis of metabolites discriminant for PD-status was performed.
Longer colonic transit was linked to deficits in faecal short-chain-fatty acids outside PD, to a ‘tryptophan-containing metabolite cluster’ overall. Phenotypic cluster analysis aggregated colonic transit with brady/hypokinesia, tremor, sleep disorder and dysosmia, each individually associated with tryptophan-cluster deficit. Overall, a faster pulse was associated with deficits in a metabolite cluster including benzoic acid and an imidazole-ring compound (anti-fungals) and vitamin B3 (anti-inflammatory) and with higher serum CCL20 (chemotactic for lymphocytes/dendritic cells towards mucosal epithelium). The faster pulse in PD was irrespective of postural hypotension. The benzoic acid-cluster deficit was linked to (well-recognised) lower caffeine and alcohol intakes, tryptophan-cluster deficit to higher maltose intake. Free-sugar intake was increased in PD, maltose intake being 63% higher (p = .001). Faecal calprotectin was 44% (95% CI 5%, 98%) greater in PD [p = .001, adjusted for proton-pump inhibitors (p = .001)], with 16% of PD-probands exceeding a cut-point for clinically significant inflammation compatible with inflammatory bowel disease. Higher maltose intake was associated with exceeding this calprotectin cut-point.
Emerging picture is of (i) clinical phenotype being described by deficits in microbial metabolites essential to gut health; (ii) intestinal inflammation; (iii) a systemic inflammatory response syndrome.

© 2022 The Authors. Clinical and Translational Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Shanghai Institute of Clinical Bioinformatics.