Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parkinson's protein causes disease spread in animal model

Date:
April 17, 2012
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have shown that brain tissue from a Parkinson's disease mouse model, as well as synthetically produced disease protein fibrils, injected into young, symptom-free PD mice led to spreading of PD pathology.

These images show the brainstem from a control animal (top) and an animal injected with pathologic alpha-synuclein. Brown spots are immunostaining using an antibody specifically recognizing an abnormal form of alpha-synuclein.
Credit: Kelvin C. Luk, Ph.D., Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

Last year, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that small amounts of a misfolded brain protein can be taken up by healthy neurons, replicating within them to cause neurodegeneration. The protein, alpha-synuclein (a-syn), is commonly found in the brain, but forms characteristic clumps called Lewy bodies, in neurons of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and other neurodegenerative disorders. They found that abnormal forms of a-syn called fibrils acted as "seeds" that induced normal a-syn to misfold and form aggregates.

Related Articles


In earlier studies at other institutions, when fetal nerve cells were transplanted into the brains of PD patients, some of the transplanted cells developed Lewy bodies. This suggested that the corrupted form of a-syn could somehow be transmitted from diseased neurons to healthy ones.

Now, in a follow-up study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the team, led by senior author Virginia M.-Y Lee, PhD, director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research and professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, showed that brain tissue from a PD mouse model, as well as synthetically produced a-syn fibrils, injected into young, symptom-free PD mice led to spreading of a-syn pathology. By three months after a single injection, neurons containing abnormal a-syn clumps were detected throughout the mouse brains. The inoculated mice died between 100 to 125 days post-inoculation, out of their typical two-year life span.

"We think the spreading is via white-matter tracks through brain neural network connections," explains Lee. "This study will open new opportunities for novel Parkinson's disease therapies."

One of the remaining questions is how, once inside a neuron, does the misfolded a-syn protein spread from cell to cell.

"It's like a biochemical chain reaction," says first author Kelvin C. Luk, Ph.D., research associate, in the CNDR. Once inside the confines of a neuron, the misfolded a-syn recruits normally shaped a-syn protein that is present in the cell, causing them to eventually misfold. This occurs along the axons and dendrites (neuronal extensions that reach other neurons), leading to a dramatic accumulation of the abnormal protein. The misshapen a-syn then invades other neurons when they reach the synapse, the small space between neurons.

This transmission process is remarkably similar to what is seen in prions, the protein agents responsible for conditions such as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies ( mad cow disease). However, the researchers are quick to caution that there is no evidence that Parkinson's or any related neurodegenerative diseases is either infectious or acquired.

The accumulation of misfolded proteins is a fundamental pathogenic process in neurodegenerative diseases, but the factors that trigger aggregation of a-syn are poorly understood.

The Penn team saw that misfolded a-syn propagated along major central nervous system pathways, reaching regions far beyond injection sites. What's more, they showed for the first time that synthetically produced a-syn fibrils are sufficient to initiate a vicious cycle of Lewy body formation and transmission of the misfolded a-syn in mice.

The study demonstrates just how the Parkinson's disease protein can spread in a patient's brain in terms of uptake into a healthy neuron, expansion within the cell, and finally release to a neighboring neuron.

"Knowing this mechanism allows for possible immunotherapies to interrupt the chain reaction by stopping the mutant protein from spreading at the synapse," says Lee.

"Shedding light on how a-synuclein contributes to Parkinson's disease and related Lewy body disorders is of significant interest both for understanding these diseases and developing potential treatments," said Beth-Anne Sieber, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health. "This study provides evidence for the progressive, pathological spread of a-synuclein through the brain."

This work was supported by a NINDS Morris K. Udall Center (NS-053488) and the JPB Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. C. Luk, V. M. Kehm, B. Zhang, P. O'Brien, J. Q. Trojanowski, V. M. Y. Lee. Intracerebral inoculation of pathological  -synuclein initiates a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative  -synucleinopathy in mice. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2012; DOI: 10.1084/jem.20112457

Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Parkinson's protein causes disease spread in animal model." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417143855.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2012, April 17). Parkinson's protein causes disease spread in animal model. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417143855.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Parkinson's protein causes disease spread in animal model." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417143855.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins