Higher exposure to common antibiotics may heighten the risk of Parkinson’s disease

Photo via: Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

As a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland found a correlation between antibiotic exposure and Parkinson’s disease. The findings were published in Movement Disorders.

For the study, researchers aimed to establish whether antibiotic exposure led to any risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), based on a nationwide, case-control study.

According to researchers, the data of all patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease between 1998 and 2014 in Finland were obtained to identify orally administered consumption of antibiotics.

“We identified all patients who were diagnosed with PD in Finland during the years 1998 to 2014,” said Tuomas Mertsalmi, co-author of the study.

“Information was obtained on individual purchases of orally administered antibiotics during the years 1993 to 2014. We assessed the association between prior antibiotic exposure and PD using conditional logistic regression.”

Over three separate time periods, 1-5 years, 5-10 years, and 10-15 years, researchers examined the level of antibiotic exposure in a total of 13,976 cases of Parkinson’s disease.

The findings showed that increased use of common antibiotics may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, with a usual onset of neurodegeneration within 10 to 15 years.

“The strongest connection with PD risk was found for oral exposure to macrolides and lincosamides,” the findings state. “After correction for multiple comparisons, exposure to antianaerobics and tetracyclines 10 to 15 years before the index date, sulfonamides and trimethoprim 1 to 5 years before the index date, and antifungal medications 1 to 5 years before the index date were positively associated with PD risk.”

Filip Scheperjans, another co-author, added: “The discovery may also have implications for antibiotic prescribing practices in the future. In addition to the problem of antibiotic resistance, antimicrobial prescribing should also take into account their potentially long-lasting effects on the gut microbiome and the development of certain diseases.”

“Our results suggest that some commonly used antibiotics, which are known to strongly influence the gut microbiota, could be a predisposing factor.”