Low and high doses of oral maslinic acid protect against Parkinson’s disease via distinct gut microbiota-related mechanisms.

XU CAO, ZHONG RUI DU, Xin Liu, XIONG WANG, Chong Li, Sainan Zhou, Jiarui LIU, Pingyi XU, Junli YE, QING ZHAO, FANG ZHAO, Ka Hing Wong (Corresponding Author), Xiaoli Dong (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


The use of oral agents that can modify the gut microbiota (GM) could be a novel preventative or therapeutic option for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Maslinic acid (MA), a pentacyclic triterpene acid with GM-dependent biological activities when it is taken orally, has not yet been reported to be effective against PD. The present study found both low and high dose MA treatment significantly prevented dopaminergic neuronal loss in a classical chronic PD mouse model by ameliorating motor functions and improving tyrosine hydroxylase expressions in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) and increasing dopamine and its metabolite homovanillic acid levels in the striatum. However, the effects of MA in PD mice were not dose-responsive, since similar beneficial effects for low and high doses of MA were observed. Further mechanism studies indicated that low dose MA administration favored probiotic bacterial growth in PD mice, which helped to increase striatal serotonin, 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid, and γ-aminobutyric acid levels. High dose MA treatment did not influence GM composition in PD mice but significantly inhibited neuroinflammation as indicated by reduced levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 1β in the SNpc; moreover, these effects were mainly mediated by microbially-derived acetic acid in the colon. In conclusion, oral MA at different doses protected against PD via distinct mechanisms related to GM. Nevertheless, our study lacked in-depth investigations of the underlying mechanisms involved; future studies will be designed to further delineate the signaling pathways involved in the interactive actions between different doses of MA and GM.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiomedicine and Pharmacotherapy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jul 2023


  • Parkinson's disease
  • maslinic acid
  • dose
  • gut microbiota
  • neurotransmitters
  • short chain fatty acids
  • neuroinflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


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