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Int J Mol Med. 2015 Jan;35(1):3-9. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2014.1980. Epub 2014 Oct 27.

Function of α-synuclein and PINK1 in Lewy body dementia (Review).

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Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Nara Women's University, Nara 630-8506, Japan.


α-Synuclein (α-syn) is the major protein component of Lewy bodies, a key pathological characteristic of the degenerating brain. The misfolding and aggregation of α-syn is associated with both the idiopathic and familial forms of Parkinson's disease (PD) and Lewy body dementia (LBD). However, the function of α-syn is poorly understood, as it shows both neurotoxic and neuroprotective activities. Mutations in phosphatase and tensin homologue-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) also cause recessively inherited PD. Studies support the notion of neuroprotective roles for PINK1, as it protects cells from damage-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and cell apoptosis. PINK1 plays an essential role in mitochondrial quality control and its homeostasis is maintained through mitochondrial stabilization. The α-syn aggregation is linked to various aspects of mitochondrial dysfunction and PINK1-related mitophagy. Determination of the molecular pathways that lead to α-syn oligomerization and further aggregation may be the basis for the successful design and development of treatments for these neurodegenerative diseases. The present review summarizes the function of PINK1 underlying α-syn aggregation and the mechanisms through which mitochondrial dysfunction plays a role in this process.

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