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Brain Pathol. 2003 Jul;13(3):364-72.

Neuropathology and neurodegeneration in rodent brain induced by lentiviral vector-mediated overexpression of alpha-synuclein.

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Gene Therapy Program, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


Two mutations in alpha-synuclein, the main constituent of Lewy bodies, have been identified in familial Parkinson's disease. We have stereotactically injected lentiviral vectors encoding wild-type and A30P mutant human alpha-synuclein in different brain regions (striatum, substantia nigra, amygdala) of mice. Overexpression of alpha-synuclein induced time-dependent neuropathological changes reminiscent of Lewy pathology: abnormal accumulation of alpha-synuclein in cell bodies and neurites, alpha-synuclein-positive neuritic varicosities and cytoplasmic inclusions that stained with ubiquitin antibodies and became larger and more frequent with time. After one year, alpha-synuclein- and ubiquitin-positive neurons displayed a degenerative morphology and a significant loss of alpha-synuclein-positive cells was observed. Similar findings were observed with both the wild-type and the A30P mutant form of alpha-synuclein and this in different brain regions. This indicates that overexpression of alpha-synuclein is sufficient to induce Lewy-like pathology and neurodegeneration and that this effect is not restricted to dopaminergic cells. Our data also demonstrate the use of lentiviral vectors to create animal models for neurodegenerative diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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