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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2000 Jul;59(7):592-8.

Novel immunolocalization of alpha-synuclein in human muscle of inclusion-body myositis, regenerating and necrotic muscle fibers, and at neuromuscular junctions.

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  • 1USC Neuromuscular Center, Department of Neurology, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles 90017-1912, USA.


Alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) is an important component of neuronal and glial inclusions in brains of patients with several neurodegenerative disorders. Sporadic inclusion-body myositis (s-IBM) is the most common progressive muscle disease of older patients. Its muscle phenotype shows several similarities with Alzheimer disease brain. A distinct feature of s-IBM pathology is specific vacuolar degeneration of muscle fibers characterized by intracellular amyloid inclusions formed by both amyloid-beta (Abeta) and paired-helical filaments composed of phosphorylated tau. We immunostained alpha-syn in muscle biopsies of s-IBM, disease-control, and normal patients. Approximately 60% of Abeta-positive vacuolated muscle fibers (VMF) contained well-defined inclusions immunoreactive with antibodies against alpha-syn. In those fibers. alpha-syn co-localized with Abeta, both by light microscopy, and ultrastructurally. Paired-helical filaments did not contain alpha-syn immunoreactivity. In all muscle biopsies, alpha-syn was strongly immunoreactive at the postsynaptic region of the neuromuscular junctions. alpha-syn immunoreactivity also occurred diffusely in regenerating and necrotic muscle fibers. In cultured human muscle fibers, alpha-syn and its mRNA were expressed by immunocytochemistry, immunoblots, and Northern blots. Our study provides the first demonstration that alpha-syn participates in normal and pathologic processes of human muscle. Therefore. its function is not exclusive to the brain and neurodegenerative diseases.

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