The gastrointestinal complications of Parkinson's Disease

Project Details

Parkinson’s Disease causes losses in neural control in the digestive system as well as defects in the central nervous system. Loss of neural control of digestive function commonly occurs before central changes are detected.

About 70% of people with Parkinson’s Disease have digestive problems, most commonly constipation. Importantly for understanding the genesis of Parkinson’s Disease, the digestive disorders commonly precede the motor dysfunction. The constipation could arise from disorders in the central nervous system or from disorders in the enteric nervous system.

In this project, mice with a human mutation that gives rise to Parkinson’s Disease (in both humans and mice) and mice and rats with chemically-induced Parkinson’s Disease will be used.

Physiological, pharmacological and structural approaches will be used to investigate whether central or enteric pathways are involved.


Dr Shanti Diwakarla, Project Leader/Supervisor

Dr Rachel McQuade

Professor John Furness

Dr Ruslan Pustovit

Madeleine Di Natale

Xin Yi Chai

Lewis Singleton


Dr David Finkelstein

Dr Vicki Lawson

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science, Post Doctor Research to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Publications

Ellett, LJ, Hung, LW, Munckton, R, Sherratt, NA, Culvenor, J, Grubman, A, Furness, JB, White, AR, Finkelstein, DI, Barnham, KJ, Lawson, VA: Restoration of gastrointestinal function in an MPTP model of Parkinson’s Disease. Scientific Reports (2016).

Research Group

Furness laboratory: Digestive physiology and nutrition

Faculty Research Themes


Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Neuroscience

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