Pesticides and the Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis: Convergent Pathways in the Pathogenesis of Parkinson’s Disease.


Kristina Kulcsarova, Corinna Bang, Daniela Berg, Eva Schaeffer

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The increasing global burden of Parkinson’s disease (PD), termed the PD pandemic, is exceeding expectations related purely to population aging and is likely driven in part by lifestyle changes and environmental factors. Pesticides are well recognized risk factors for PD, supported by both epidemiological and experimental evidence, with multiple detrimental effects beyond dopaminergic neuron damage alone. The microbiome-gut-brain axis has gained much attention in recent years and is considered to be a significant contributor and driver of PD pathogenesis. In this narrative review, we first focus on how both pesticides and the microbiome may influence PD initiation and progression independently, describing pesticide-related central and peripheral neurotoxicity and microbiome-related local and systemic effects due to dysbiosis and microbial metabolites. We then depict the bidirectional interplay between pesticides and the microbiome in the context of PD, synthesizing current knowledge about pesticide-induced dysbiosis, microbiome-mediated alterations in pesticide availability, metabolism and toxicity, and complex systemic pesticide-microbiome-host interactions related to inflammatory and metabolic pathways, insulin resistance and other mechanisms. An overview of the unknowns follows, and the role of pesticide-microbiome interactions in the proposed body-/brain-first phenotypes of PD, the complexity of environmental exposures and gene-environment interactions is discussed. The final part deals with possible further steps for translation, consisting of recommendations on future pesticide use and research as well as an outline of promising preventive/therapeutic approaches targeted on strengthening or restoring a healthy gut microbiome, closing with a summary of current gaps and future perspectives in the field.