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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e45256. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045256. Epub 2012 Sep 18.

A spirulina-enhanced diet provides neuroprotection in an α-synuclein model of Parkinson's disease.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, University of South Florida, College of Medicine, Tampa, Florida, USA.

Abstract

Inflammation in the brain plays a major role in neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, microglial cell activation is believed to be associated with the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease (PD). An increase in microglia activation has been shown in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) of PD models when there has been a decrease in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) positive cells. This may be a sign of neurotoxicity due to prolonged activation of microglia in both early and late stages of disease progression. Natural products, such as spirulina, derived from blue green algae, are believed to help reverse this effect due to its anti-inflammatory/anti-oxidant properties. An adeno-associated virus vector (AAV9) for α-synuclein was injected in the substantia nigra of rats to model Parkinson's disease and to study the effects of spirulina on the inflammatory response. One month prior to surgeries, rats were fed either a diet enhanced with spirulina or a control diet. Immunohistochemistry was analyzed with unbiased stereological methods to quantify lesion size and microglial activation. As hypothesized, spirulina was neuroprotective in this α-synuclein model of PD as more TH+ and NeuN+ cells were observed; spirulina concomitantly decreased the numbers of activated microglial cells as determined by MHCII expression. This decrease in microglia activation may have been due, in part, to the effect of spirulina to increase expression of the fractalkine receptor (CX3CR1) on microglia. With this study we hypothesize that α-synuclein neurotoxicity is mediated, at least in part, via an interaction with microglia. We observed a decrease in activated microglia in the rats that received a spirulina- enhanced diet concomitant to neuroprotection. The increase in CX3CR1 in the groups that received spirulina, suggests a potential mechanism of action.

PMID:
23028885
PMCID:
PMC3445455
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0045256
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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