Does Appendectomy Have Any Link To Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a disease which affects the nervous system. Its consequence is the damage of the nerve cells which is located in the brain and mostly affects those cells which are responsible for producing Dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical substance which is responsible for control and movement of the smooth muscles of the body. This disease mostly affects people with age over 65 years, but often occurs among younger age groups too.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by deterioration of the nerve cells. It is said that in Parkinson’s disease patients lose 70% of their brain cells gradually. Sometimes, the disease remains asymptomatic for long time. Sometimes in the early stage of this disease, symptoms remain silent. The symptoms of this disease get worsen when the disease is going to its advance stage over time. Though symptoms of Parkinson’s disease differ from patient to patient, but most common symptom which is found in almost all Parkinson’s patients is tremor. Tremor means shaking of limbs, mainly starts in hands and fingers. After some time, this disease affects patient’s movement and makes basic tasks tedious and troublesome. It causes problem with patient’s walking leading to shorter steps. Other symptoms include stiffness of muscles, impairment of the balance, change in speech and so on.

Parkinson’s disease occurs due to the gradual damage of the brain cells which produce dopamine. Due to the decrease level of dopamine, symptoms of the disease start. But the reason of this damage of brain cells is still unknown. There are some factors which may be responsible for this disease, such as, inheritance, environmental triggers (exposure of toxins), clusters of explicit substances in the brain cells known as Lewy bodies. Numerous substances are found inside Lewy bodies, among them, researchers found that the most significant one is alpha-synuclein (a natural protein).

The link between appendectomy and Parkinson’s disease is hypothesised because of this alpha-synuclein. The appendix may have the access for the foreign structures, alpha-synuclein which make the Lewy bodies more than different parts of the intestine. This theory told that appendix can control the structures such as Lewy bodies which are responsible in the aetiology of Parkinson’s disease. Another theory posits that Lewy bodies enter brain through a pathway via gut.

A study on 62 million people in the United States found an association between appendectomy and Parkinson’s disease. They found that people whose appendix was removed had more than three times chances of developing Parkinson’s disease. Although the pathway and mechanism of alpha-synuclein is not clear to the researchers, so, there are also controversy regarding the relationship between Appendectomy and developing of Parkinson’s disease. In 2018, a study with a sample size of 1.6 million people is done in Sweden, and found that there is a lower chance and delaying of Parkinson’s disease, if the person had a history of appendectomy.

All these studies show a relationship between appendectomy and Parkinson’s disease, but this is just an association. Further researches are needed for confirming this association and understanding the mechanism behind it.