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Exp Neurol. 2010 Feb;221(2):267-74. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2009.11.015. Epub 2009 Nov 26.

Lovastatin ameliorates alpha-synuclein accumulation and oxidation in transgenic mouse models of alpha-synucleinopathies.

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Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0624, USA.


Alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) aggregation is a neuropathological hallmark of many diseases including Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) and Parkinson's Disease (PD), collectively termed the alpha-synucleinopathies. The mechanisms underlying alpha-syn aggregation remain elusive though emerging science has hypothesized that the interaction between cholesterol and alpha-syn may play a role. Cholesterol has been linked to alpha-synucleinopathies by recent work suggesting cholesterol metabolites appear to accelerate alpha-syn fibrillization. Consistent with these findings, cholesterol-lowering agents have been demonstrated to reduce alpha-syn accumulation and the associated neuronal pathology in vitro. In this context, this study sought to investigate the in vivo effects of the cholesterol synthesis inhibitor lovastatin on alpha-syn aggregation in two different transgenic (Tg) mouse models that neuronally overexpress human alpha-syn. Lovastatin-treated mice displayed significantly reduced plasma cholesterol levels and levels of oxidized cholesterol metabolites in the brain in comparison to saline-treated controls. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated a significant reduction of neuronal alpha-syn aggregates and alpha-syn immunoreactive neuropil in the temporal cortex of lovastatin-treated Tg mice in comparison to saline-treated alpha-syn Tg controls. Consistently, immunoblot analysis of mouse brain homogenates showed a reduction in levels of total and oxidized alpha-syn in lovastatin-treated alpha-syn Tg mice in comparison to saline-treated alpha-syn Tg controls. The reduced alpha-syn accumulation in lovastatin-treated mice was associated with abrogation of neuronal pathology. The results from this study demonstrate that lovastatin administration can reduce alpha-syn aggregation and associated neuropathology and support the possibility that treatment with cholesterol-lowering agents may be beneficial for patients with PD and/or DLB.

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