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Eur J Neurosci. 2018 Dec 26. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14314. [Epub ahead of print]

Are PARKIN patients ideal candidates for dopaminergic cell replacement therapies?

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MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Institute for Stem Cell Research, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
Translational Neurosurgery Group, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK.
Tomorrow Edition, Toronto, Canada.
Edinburgh Research Interest Group, Parkinson's UK, Edinburgh, UK.
MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, DD1 5EH, Dundee, UK.


Parkinson's is a heterogeneous, complex condition. Stratification of Parkinson's subtypes will be essential to identify those that will benefit most from a cell replacement therapy. Foetal mesencephalic grafts can alleviate motor symptoms in some Parkinson's patients. However, on-going synucleinopathy results in the grafts eventually developing Lewy bodies, and they begin to fail. We propose that Parkinson's patients with PARKIN mutations may benefit most from a cell replacement therapy because (a) they often lack synucleinopathy, and (b) their neurodegeneration is often confined to the nigrostriatal pathway. While patients with PARKIN mutations exhibit clinical signs of Parkinson's, post-mortem studies to date indicate the majority lack Lewy bodies suggesting the nigral dopaminergic neurons are lost in a cell autonomous manner independent of α-synuclein mechanisms. Furthermore, these patients are usually younger, slow progressing and typically do not suffer from complex non-nigral symptoms that are unlikely to be ameliorated by a cell replacement therapy. Transplantation of dopaminergic cells into the putamen of these patients will provide neurons with wild-type PARKIN expression to re-innervate the striatum. The focal nature of PARKIN-mediated neurodegeneration and lack of active synucleinopathy in most young-onset cases makes these patients ideal candidates for a dopaminergic cell replacement therapy. Strategies to improve the outcome of cell replacement therapies for sporadic Parkinson's include the use of adjunct therapeutics that target α-synuclein spreading and the use of genetically engineered grafts that are resistant to synucleinopathy.


PARKIN ; Parkinson's disease; dopaminergic cell transplantation; pure nigropathy; synucleinopathy


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