To further explore this concept, the study team screened for bacterial E. coli genes whose deletion alleviates the PD symptoms in the PD animal model (microscopic worm – Caenorhabditis elegans that feeds on bacteria).
Bacterial Genes and Neurodegeneration
It was found that 8 bacterial genes can secrete proteins that form an amyloid fibril. This enters the host neurons and promotes protein aggregation and neurodegeneration.
Thus inhibiting the bacteria’s ability to secrete such proteins by genetic interventions may be a preventative treatment for neurodegenerative diseases. The result was also validated in the animal models of Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Huntington’s disease.
“One of the interesting findings in this study is that a polyphenol called EGCG from green tea extracts can almost completely inhibit curli secretion in bacteria and has amazing effects in suppressing neurodegeneration. This is consistent with the observation that drinking green tea has beneficial effects in preventing neurodegenerative diseases,” says Dr. Chenyin WANG, the first author of the paper.
The study thereby opens a new direction to develop novel therapeutic targets against bacterial curli production in the human gut for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.