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Hum Gene Ther. 2002 Mar 20;13(5):605-12.

Dopaminergic cell loss induced by human A30P alpha-synuclein gene transfer to the rat substantia nigra.

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Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL 32610-0267, USA.


Somatic cell gene transfer was used to express a mutant form of alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) that is associated with Parkinson's disease (PD) in the rat substantia nigra (SN), a brain region that, in humans, degenerates during PD. DNA encoding the A30P mutant of human alpha-syn linked to familial PD was incorporated into an adeno-associated virus vector, which was injected into the adult rat midbrain. The cytomegalovirus/chicken beta-actin promoter was used to drive transgene expression. Over a 1-year time course, this treatment produced three significant features relevant to PD: (1) accumulation of alpha-syn in SN neuron perikarya, (2) Lewy-like dystrophic neurites in the SN and the striatum, and (3) a 53% loss of SN dopamine neurons. However, motor dysfunction was not found in either rotational or rotating rod testing. The lack of behavioral deficits, despite the significant cell loss, may reflect pathogenesis similar to that of PD, where greater than 50% losses occur before motor behavior is affected.

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