admin March 3, 2018

Abstract

The accumulation of misfolded α-synuclein (aSyn) and neuron loss define several neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). However, the precise relationship between pathology and neurotoxicity and why these processes disproportionately affect certain neuron subpopulations are poorly understood. We show here that Math2-expressing neurons in the hippocampal Cornu ammonis (CA), a region significantly affected by aSyn pathology in advanced PD and DLB, are highly susceptible to pathological seeding with pre-formed fibrils (PFFs), in contrast to dentate gyrus neurons, which are relatively spared. Math2+ neurons also exhibited more rapid and severe cell loss in both in vitro and in vivo models of synucleinopathy. Toxicity resulting from PFF exposure was dependent on endogenous aSyn and could be attenuated by N-acetyl-cysteine through a glutathione-dependent process. Moreover, aSyn expression levels strongly correlate with relative vulnerability among hippocampal neuron subtypes of which Math2+ neurons contained the highest amount. Consistent with this, antisense oligonucleotide (ASO)-mediated knockdown of aSyn reduced the neuronal pathology in a time-dependent manner. However, significant neuroprotection was observed only with early ASO intervention and a substantial reduction of aSyn pathology, indicating toxicity occurs after a critical threshold of pathological burden is exceeded in vulnerable neurons. Together, our findings reveal considerable heterogeneity in endogenous aSyn levels among hippocampal neurons and suggest that this may contribute to the selective vulnerability observed in the context of synucleinopathies.

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