Degree Type

Creative Component

Semester of Graduation

Spring 2019


Biomedical Sciences

First Major Professor

Jonathan Mochel


Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical Sciences


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is known to develop when there are decreased dopamine levels in the substantia nigra and development of alpha-synuclein neurons in the brain. However, recent studies have suggested that the gut-brain axis plays a large role in the development of PD. As a person ages, the cellular defense mechanisms in the gastrointestinal tract weakens, causing changes in the gut microbiota. This can eventually lead to changes such as dysbiosis, increased oxidative stress, and eventually alpha-synuclein neuron formation in the enteric nervous system in those who are susceptible to PD. The alpha-synuclein neurons spread to regions of the brain via the gut-brain axis. These changes along with other environmental factors can assist in the development of PD. Current L-DOPA treatment for PD are highly effective at minimizing symptoms, but can leave patients experiencing debilitating side effects during the “off” state when plasma L-DOPA levels are low. Researchers have been in search to improve treatment by exploring gastroretentive L-DOPA treatment and use of probiotics. Additionally, canines should be used as animal models for neurodegenerative disease research due to their various similarities to humans. Canines specifically are similar in their diets, digestive tract, aging process, and cerebral anatomy.

Copyright Owner

Kimberly Dao

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