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Glia. 2008 Aug 15;56(11):1215-23. doi: 10.1002/glia.20691.

Microglial phagocytosis is enhanced by monomeric alpha-synuclein, not aggregated alpha-synuclein: implications for Parkinson's disease.

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Chronic Inflammatory Disease Research Center, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea.


Gathering evidence has associated activation of microglia with the pathogenesis of numerous neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Microglia are the resident macrophages of the CNS whose functions include chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and secretion of a variety of cytokines and proteases. In this study, we examined the possibility that alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn), which is associated with the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease, may affect the phagocytic function of microglia. We found that extracellular monomeric alpha-syn enhanced microglial phagocytosis in both a dose- and time-dependent manner, but beta- and gamma- syn did not. We also found that the N-terminal and NAC region of alpha-syn, especially the NAC region, might be responsible for the effect of alpha-syn on microglial phagocytosis. In contrast to monomeric alpha-syn, aggregated alpha-syn actually inhibited microglial phagocytosis. The different effects of monomeric and aggregated alpha-syn on phagocytosis might be related to their localization in cells. This study indicates that alpha-syn can modulate the function of microglia and influence inflammatory changes such as those seen in neurodegenerative disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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