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The link between increased Desulfovibrio and disease severity in Parkinson’s disease

  • Applied Microbial and Cell Physiology
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Parkinson’s disease (PD), a progressive and incurable neurodegenerative disease, has taken a huge economic toll and medical burden on our society. Increasing evidence has shown a strong link between PD and the gut microbiome, but studies on the relationship between the gut microbiome and the severity of PD are limited. In this study, 90 fecal samples were collected from newly diagnosed and untreated patients with PD (n = 47) and matched healthy control subjects (n = 43). The 16S rRNA amplicon and shotgun metagenomic sequencing was performed, aiming to uncover the connection between the gut microbiome and disease severity in PD. The results showed that Desulfovibrio was significantly increased in PD compared to healthy controls and positively correlated with disease severity. The increase in Desulfovibrio was mainly driven by enhanced homogeneous selection and weakened drift. Moreover, through metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) analysis, a Desulfovibrio MAG (MAG58) was obtained which was also positively correlated with disease severity. MAG58 possesses a complete assimilatory sulfate reduction pathway and a near-complete dissimilatory sulfate reduction pathway to produce hydrogen sulfide which may influence the development of PD. Based on these results, a potential pathogenic mechanism was presented to illustrate how the increased Desulfovibrio accelerates the development of PD by producing excessive hydrogen sulfide. The present study highlighted the vital role of Desulfovibrio in the development of PD, which may provide a new target for the diagnosis and treatment of PD.

Key Points

The evidence for the link between increased Desulfovibrio and disease severity in PD

A Desulfovibrio MAG was obtained which was correlated with PD

A model was presented to illustrate how increased Desulfovibrio causes PD

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Data availability

All sequencing data and metagenome-assembled genomes used in this study have been deposited in the China National GeneBank DataBase (CNGBdb) with accession number CNP0003327.


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We thank Dr. Guanyu Zhang and Dr. Shaoyang Ma for their assistance in collecting samples.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (42177274, 31961133025) and the State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology (SKLURE2022-1-3).

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Correspondence to Zheng Ye or Yuan Ge.

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This study was approved by the ethics committee of the Peking University Third Hospital according to the Declaration of Helsinki (M2017368). Each participant signed a written informed consent before participating in this study.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Nie, S., Jing, Z., Wang, J. et al. The link between increased Desulfovibrio and disease severity in Parkinson’s disease. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 107, 3033–3045 (2023).

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