UCLA research study: The gut in Parkinson’s disease

Drs. Ming Guo (Neurology) and Elizabeth Videlock (Digestive Diseases) are conducting a research study that aims to investigate the role of the gut in Parkinson’s disease (PD), specifically the role of two genes called PINK1 and PRKN in the lining of the intestine.

The purpose of this study is to collect blood samples and pieces of tissue (biopsies) from the colon in order to identify differences in the gut between Parkinson’s disease and controls. This will help us to understand the role of the gut in Parkinson’s disease and eventually develop ways to diagnose Parkinson’s disease early and perhaps to develop new treatments for Parkinson’s disease. We will use the cells taken from your colon to create what is sometimes called an “organoid” or “mini-gut.” An organoid is an organized cluster of cells, grown in the lab, which are designed to mimic organ structure and function. Organoids can be used to help understand diseases and treatments for them.

Qualifications include:

  • You are between the ages of 30 and 75 years old
  • You are a healthy control or have PD

The study involves 2 visits:

  • Visit #1: Screening (~1.5 hours)
    • You will undergo a physical examination and discuss your medical history and medications with the study doctors
    • You will complete questionnaires
    • You do not have to answer any questions you do not wish to answer or are uncomfortable answering, and you may stop at any time
    • Your participation in the screening is voluntary
  • Visit #2: Colon examination and blood collection (~1.5 hours)
    • You will undergo a flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure with biopsies performed by Dr. Elizabeth Videlock. The flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure is a common screening method used to find any abnormalities on the colon wall. It involves passing a flexible tube with video capabilities approximately the size of a finger into the rectum and to to a distance of 30 centimeters (12 inches). At that point, 20 colonic biopsies, pieces of tissue the size of a needle point, will be collected. The procedure will have minimal discomfort since the colon has very few nerve endings. You may experience a bloating-like sensation or the feeling of needing to have a bowel movement. Although uncommon there is a risk of puncturing a hole in the large intestine (colon). This procedure lasts approximately 10-15 minutes.


  • Earn up to $150

Please be aware that we will not disclose any personal health information, which includes health information in your medical records, financial records, and any other information that can identify you. Answers to the screening questions will be confidential and no one will know your answers except for the research team.

If you do not qualify for the study, the answers you provide will be kept without your name or any identifying information for the purpose of documenting how many participants were screened and found to be ineligible for what reasons. If you do qualify and decide to participate by signing the consent form, your answers will be kept within the research record.

If you are interested in participating or would like to learn more, please call our study coordinator, Melissa Arevalo, at 310-794-3788 or email [email protected].

If you choose to respond by email, do not include any sensitive health information, as the confidentiality of emails cannot be guaranteed.

To be contacted about additional opportunities to participate in clinical research related to the gut in Parkinson’s disease and the gut-brain axis, click here