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.


  • Project supervisor: Dr Rachel McQuade,
  • Project members: Professor John Furness, Xin Yi Chai


Dr David Finkelstein

Dr Vicki Lawson

Research Publications

Diwakarla, S, Finkelstein, DI, Constable, R, Artaiz, O, Di Natale, M, McQuade, RM, Lei, E, Chai, X-y, Ringuet, MT, Fothergill, LJ, Lawson, VA, Ellett, LJ, Berger, JP, Furness, JB:  Chronic isolation stress modifies non-motor symptoms in the A53T mouse model of Parkinson's Disease.  Neurogast Motil 32, e13755 (2020). DOI: 10.1111/nmo.13755.

Chai, X-y, Diwakarla, S, Pustovit, RV, McQuade, RM, Di Natale, M, Ermine, CM, Parish, CL, Finkelstein, DI, Furness, JB: Investigation of nerve pathways mediating colorectal dysfunction in a Parkinson’s disease model produced by lesion of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. Neurogast Motil (in Press, accepted 4 May 2020)

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 Physiology

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