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Am J Pathol. Apr 1998; 152(4): 879–884.
PMCID: PMC1858234

Aggregation of alpha-synuclein in Lewy bodies of sporadic Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Abstract

Lewy bodies (LBs) are hallmark lesions of degenerating neurons in the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Recently, a point mutation in the gene encoding the presynaptic alpha-synuclein protein was identified in some autosomal-dominantly inherited familial PD pedigrees, and light microscopic studies demonstrated alpha-synuclein immunoreactivity in LBs of sporadic PD and DLB. To characterize alpha-synuclein in LBs, we raised monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to LBs purified from DLB brains and obtained a MAb specific for alpha-synuclein that intensely labeled LBs. Light and electron microscopic immunocytochemical studies performed with this MAb as well as other antibodies to alpha-and beta-synuclein showed that alpha-synuclein, but not beta-synuclein, is a component of LBs in sporadic PD and DLB. Western blot analyses of highly purified LBs from DLB brains showed that full-length as well as partially truncated and insoluble aggregates of alpha-synuclein are deposited in LBs. Thus, these data strongly implicate alpha-synuclein in the formation of LBs and the selective degeneration of neurons in sporadic PD and DLB.

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Selected References

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