Neurogenic and anti-inflammatory effects of probiotics in Parkinson's disease: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical evidence

Valentina Leta, K. Ray Chaudhuri, Oliver Milner, Guy Chung-Faye, Vinod Metta, Carmine M. Pariante, Alessandra Borsini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
330 Downloads (Pure)


There is increasing evidence highlighting the potential role of the gut-brain axis in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) and on the use of probiotics as a therapeutic strategy for this neurodegenerative disorder. While several studies have been published on the topic in recent years, there is still a lack of a comprehensive understanding of the effects of probiotics in PD and their possible underlying mechanisms. Through this systematic review, we collected a total of 17 articles, consisting of preclinical and clinical models of PD investigating the effect of probiotics on (1) energy metabolism, (2) inflammation and oxidative stress, (3) neurodegeneration, as well as (4) motor and (5) non-motor function. Articles were obtained from PubMed/Medline, Scopus, Web of Science and Embase databases. Findings from preclinical studies suggest that treatment with probiotics increases glucose metabolism (increased secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1), reduces peripheral and central inflammation (reduced interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)), reduces peripheral and central oxidative stress (reduced peripheral superoxide anion levels and increased central antioxidant glutathione levels), decreases neurodegeneration (increased numbers of tyrosine hydroxylase dopaminergic neurons and levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor), increases motor function (increased motor agility) and non-motor function (decreased memory deficits). Similarly, findings from clinical studies suggest that probiotics increase glucose metabolism (reduced insulin resistance), reduce peripheral inflammation (reduced peripheral TNF-α expression and C-reactive protein levels), and increase motor and non-motor function (decreased overall PD symptomatology and constipation); however, findings on oxidative stress were inconclusive across studies. Overall, this review is the first one to systematically report evidence for the putative beneficial effects of probiotics on molecular and cellular mechanisms, as well as behavioural phenotypes, in either preclinical or clinical studies in PD. However, additional and more robust studies are still needed to confirm these outcomes, and should aim to focus more on bench-to-bedside approaches, in order to address the existing gaps between preclinical and clinical findings in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-73
Number of pages15
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Inflammation
  • Metabolism
  • Motor symptoms
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Non-motor symptoms
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Probiotics


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