UCL Division of Biosciences


CDB Seminar - Maria Doitsidou - University of Edinburgh

04 June 2020, 12:00 pm–1:00 pm


Title: 'The role of gut bacteria in Parkinson’s disease - lessons from C. elegans' Location: G04, Gavin de Beer LT, Anatomy Building

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Marilyn Bryan


G04, Gavin de Beer LT
Anatomy Building
Gower Street

Academic Host: Arantza Barrios
Abstract: Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons and alpha-synuclein aggregation. Recent studies have revealed a role for the gut microbiome in the development or progression of Parkinson’s. However, the complexity of the microbiota in the human gut makes it challenging to understand the contributions of individual species or the mechanisms by which the affect host physiology. In the bacterivore C. elegans we can precisely control its microbiota and therefore investigate the effects of gut bacteria at the single species-single gene level.

We utilize C. elegans models of Parkinson’s disease that ectopically express human alpha-synuclein, resulting in dopaminergic degeneration and protein aggregation. Using these models, we systematically investigate the effects of probiotics as well as bacteria differentially present in the gut of Parkinson’s patients compared to controls. We recently discovered that the probiotic bacterium B. subtilis inhibits alpha-synuclein aggregation and clears already formed aggregates. We have linked this effect to a number of molecular pathways in both the bacteria and the host. We are taking an inter-species multidisciplinary approach to understand the precise metabolic changes triggered in the host by the probiotic and identify the bacterial signals underlying the protection.

About the Speaker

Dr Maria Doitsidou

Chancellor's Fellow at University of Edinburgh

Maria Doitsidou is a Chancellor’s Fellow/Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences. She did her PhD in developmental biology at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, where she studied germ cell migration in Zebrafish. She continued with postdoctoral training at Columbia University in New York, investigating transcriptional regulation of dopaminergic neuronal fate. In her lab at the University of Edinburgh she studies mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease using C. elegans.



More about Dr Maria Doitsidou