The gastrointestinal complications of Parkinson's Disease


  • Project Supervisor
    Dr Shanti Diwakarla

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 supervisors:

  • Dr Shanti Diwakarla

Project members:

  • Dr Rachel McQuade, Professor John Furness, Dr Ruslan Pustovit, Madeleine Di Natale, Xin Yi Chai, Lewis Singleton


  • Dr David Finkelstein, Dr Vicki Lawson

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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