Increasing preclinical evidence is being presented that suggests the gastrointestinal system can play a role in models of Parkinson’s. In addition, there is mounting epidemiological data indicating that the gut can have some kind of influence in people with the condition.
Recently, a new paper was published which explores the involvement of the vagus nerve. This is the bundle of nerves connecting the gut to the brain.
Specifically, the researchers cut the vagus nerve in mice who had the Parkinson’s associated protein alpha synuclein introduced to their guts, and they found that these mice did not develop the characteristics of Parkinson’s, while those mice with intact vagus nerves did.
In today’s post, we will discuss this new report, review some of the additional preclinical and epidemiological data, and try to understand what it all means for our understanding of Parkinson’s.
Today’s post is about the origin of things. Specifically, Parkinson’s.
But we will begins with words: Consider for a moment the title of this post: Viva las vagus.
When most people read of the word ‘Viva‘, they think of it as a call to cheer or applaud somthing (for example: “Vive la France!” or “Viva las Vegas”), but the origin of the word has a slightly different meaning.
Viva is a shortening of the Latin term viva voce, meaning “live voice”. And in this context it refers to an oral examination – typically for an academic qualification. For example, a European PhD examination is referred to as “viva” and it is an oral denfense (sometimes public – eek!) of the thesis.
A PhD viva examination. Source: Guardian
‘Las’ is simply the Spanish word for ‘the’. And the word ‘vagus’ originates from the Latin, meaning ‘wandering, uncertain’.
Thus, the title of today’s post could – in effect – be “an examination of the uncertain”.
In anatomy and medicine the word, Vagus also refers to an important part of our nervous system.