Patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) exhibit distinct gut microbiota, which may promote gut-derived inflammation. Rifaximin is a nonabsorbable antibiotic that can modify gut microbiota. The present study investigated the effect of rifaximin on gut microbiota and inflammation status in PD. The study examined the effect of long-term rifaximin treatment on in vivo transgenic PD mice (MitoPark) and short-term rifaximin treatment on patients with PD. Rifaximin treatment caused a significant change in gut microbiota in the transgenic PD mice; in particular, it reduced the relative abundance of Prevotellaceae UCG-001 and increased the relative abundance of Bacteroides, Muribaculum, and Lachnospiraceae UCG-001. Rifaximin treatment attenuated serum interleukin-1β, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α, claudin-5 and occludin, which indicated the reduction of systemic inflammation and the protection of the blood–brain barrier integrity. The rifaximin-treated MitoPark mice exhibited better motor and memory performance than did the control mice, with lower microglial activation and increased neuronal survival in the hippocampus. In the patients with PD, 7-day rifaximin treatment caused an increase in the relative abundance of Flavonifractor 6 months after treatment, and the change in plasma proinflammatory cytokine levels was negatively associated with the baseline plasma interleukin-1α level. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that rifaximin exerted a neuroprotective effect on the transgenic PD mice by modulating gut microbiota. We observed that patients with higher baseline inflammation possibly benefited from rifaximin treatment. With consideration for the tolerability and safety of rifaximin, randomized controlled trials should investigate the disease-modification effect of long-term treatment on select patients with PD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3468
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • gut microbiota
  • inflammation
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • rifaximin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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