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Title: Experimental colitis promotes sustained, sex-dependent, T-cell-associated neuroinflammation and parkinsonian neuropathology
Abstract Background

The etiology of sporadic Parkinson’s disease (PD) remains uncertain, but genetic, epidemiological, and physiological overlap between PD and inflammatory bowel disease suggests that gut inflammation could promote dysfunction of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. Mechanisms behind this pathological gut-brain effect and their interactions with sex and with environmental factors are not well understood but may represent targets for therapeutic intervention.


We sought to identify active inflammatory mechanisms which could potentially contribute to neuroinflammation and neurological disease in colon biopsies and peripheral blood immune cells from PD patients. Then, in mouse models, we assessed whether dextran sodium sulfate-mediated colitis could exert lingering effects on dopaminergic pathways in the brain and whether colitis increased vulnerability to a subsequent exposure to the dopaminergic neurotoxicant 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). We assessed the involvement of inflammatory mechanisms identified in the PD patients in colitis-related neurological dysfunction in male and female mice, utilizing mice lacking the Regulator of G-Protein Signaling 10 (RGS10)—an inhibitor of nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB)—to model enhanced NFκB activity, and mice in which CD8+T-cells were depleted.


High levels of inflammatory markers includingCD8Band NFκB p65 were found in colon biopsies from PD patients, and reduced levels of RGS10 were found in immune cells in the blood. Male mice that experienced colitis exhibited sustained reductions in tyrosine hydroxylase but not in dopamine as well as sustained CD8+T-cell infiltration and elevatedIfngexpression in the brain. CD8+T-cell depletion prevented colitis-associated reductions in dopaminergic markers in males. In both sexes, colitis potentiated the effects of MPTP. RGS10 deficiency increased baseline intestinal inflammation, colitis severity, and neuropathology.


This study identifies peripheral inflammatory mechanisms in PD patients and explores their potential to impact central dopaminergic pathways in mice. Our findings implicate a sex-specific interaction between gastrointestinal inflammation and neurologic vulnerability that could contribute to PD pathogenesis, and they establish the importance of CD8+T-cells in this process in male mice.

Graphical abstract 
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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Springer Science + Business Media
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Acta Neuropathologica Communications
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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