Can Certain Types of Antibiotics Cause Parkinson’s Disease?

Exposure to certain types of oral antibiotics might be linked to an increase risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to a recent study published in the journal Movement Disorders.

In this study, researchers assessed 13,976 PD cases along with 40,697 controls in Finland during the years 1998 to 2014. They ascertained data on individual purchases of oral antibiotics over and 11-year period (1993-2014). Subsequently, they used logistic regression to analyze the link between prior antibiotic exposure and PD.

According to the results of the study, the researchers observed the strongest connection with PD risk for oral exposure to macrolides and lincosamides (OR=1.416; 95% CI, 1.053 to 1.904). Following corrections on 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 increased PD risk. A post hoc analyses further revealed positive links between PD and broad‐spectrum antibiotics.

Future Implications

“The link between antibiotic exposure and Parkinson’s disease fits the current view that in a significant proportion of patients the pathology of Parkinson’s may originate in the gut, possibly related to microbial changes, years before the onset of typical Parkinson motor symptoms such as slowness, muscle stiffness and shaking of the extremities. It was known that the bacterial composition of the intestine in Parkinson’s patients is abnormal, but the cause is unclear. Our results suggest that some commonly used antibiotics, which are known to strongly influence the gut microbiota, could be a predisposing factor,” says research team leader, neurologist Filip Scheperjans MD, PhD from the Department of Neurology of Helsinki University Hospital in a press release.

Dr. Scheperjans added that: “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.”