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Glia. 2007 Aug 15;55(11):1178-88.

Microglial PHOX and Mac-1 are essential to the enhanced dopaminergic neurodegeneration elicited by A30P and A53T mutant alpha-synuclein.

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Neuropharmacology Section, Laboratory of Pharmacology and Chemistry, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA.


alpha-Synuclein, a gene whose mutations, duplication, and triplication has been linked to autosomal dominant familial Parkinson's disease (fPD), appears to play a central role in the pathogenesis of sporadic PD (sPD) as well. Enhancement of neurodegeneration induced by mutant alpha-synuclein has been attributed to date largely to faster formation of alpha-synuclein aggregates in neurons. Recently, we reported that microglial activation enhances wild type (WT) alpha-synuclein-elicited dopaminergic neurodegeneration. In the present study, using a primary mesencephalic culture system, we tested whether mutated alpha-synuclein could activate microglia more powerfully than WT alpha-synuclein, thereby contributing to the accelerated neurodegeneration observed in fPD. The results showed that alpha-synuclein with the A30P or A53T mutations caused greater microglial activation than WT alpha-synuclein. Furthermore, the extent of microglial activation paralleled the degree of dopaminergic neurotoxicity induced by WT and mutant alpha-synuclein. Mutant alpha-synuclein also induced greater production of reactive oxygen species than WT alpha-synuclein by NADPH oxidase (PHOX), and PHOX activation was linked to direct activation of macrophage antigen-1 (Mac-1) receptor, rather than alpha-synuclein internalization via scavenger receptors. These results have, for the first time, demonstrated that microglia are also critical in enhanced neurotoxicity induced by mutant alpha-synuclein.

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