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Brain Res. 2012 Jun 12;1459:71-80. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2012.04.018. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

α-Synuclein mRNA and soluble α-synuclein protein levels in post-mortem brain from patients with Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and Alzheimer's disease.

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Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, N. Ireland, UK.


α-Synuclein is a neuronal protein implicated in the etiology of Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Whilst increased α-synuclein expression due to gene duplication or triplication can cause familial PD, previous studies of α-synuclein levels in idiopathic disease have produced conflicting data. We quantified α-synuclein mRNA and soluble protein in five human post-mortem brain regions from four groups of individuals with PD, DLB, Alzheimer's disease (AD) and matched controls. α-Synuclein mRNA levels, measured using quantitative real-time PCR, did not differ significantly between groups in any brain regions examined. In contrast, levels of soluble α-synuclein protein, measured by ELISA, were significantly lower in 4 of the 5 regions for patients with DLB, and in 2 of the 5 regions for patients with PD, compared to controls. Soluble α-synuclein protein levels were not significantly different in the AD patients, compared to controls, in 4 of the 5 regions. This study indicates that although levels of soluble α-synuclein protein are lower in DLB and PD, there is no evidence for a corresponding decrease in α-synuclein mRNA levels. This might result from altered translation, or removal of α-synuclein protein from a soluble detectable state, either by turnover or conversion to an insoluble form.

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