CNS News & Events

Sarah O’Donovan presents novel findings at New Horizons Conference.

16 Dec 2016

The New Horizons Research Conference, on 8th December 2016, provided the perfect platform for Sarah O’Donovan, to present her novel work on the brain-gut axis in models of Parkinson’s disease. Sarah is a post-graduate student at the APC Microbiome Institute and School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, under the supervision of a multi-disciplinary APC team, led by Dr Cora O’Neill.

Sarah was selected to present her work to the conference delegates, where she spoke about her recent work which aims to improve understanding, treatment and diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease by focusing on the brain-gut axis. She explained how mounting evidence implicates the brain-gut axis in the progression of Parkinson’s disease, and how limited information is available on whether CNS accumulation of α-synuclein, the major toxic species in Parkinson’s disease, impacts on the gut. Her results show for the first time that this brain-initiated Parkinson’s disease rat model displays increased glial cell expression and altered faecal bile acid composition. Together these findings suggest that accumulation of α-synuclein in the brain causes a number of changes to gut pathology including an inflammatory phenotype, indicating a bi-directional relationship between the gut and brain in Parkinson’s disease.

This work was funded by an APC Innovation Platform award. The APC multi-disciplinary team includes Prof. Aideen Sullivan, Dr David Clarke, Dr Jillian Browne, Dr Orla O’Sullivan, Dr Niall Hyland, Dr Susan Joyce, Dr Olivia O’Leary, Dr Suzanne Timmons and Prof. Paul O’Toole. Co-authors and contributors to this work are Erin Crowley and Dr Yvonne Nolan.

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