Using a two-photon microscope capable of peering deep within living tissue, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found new evidence that alpha-synuclein protein build-up inside neurons causes them to not only become "leaky," but also to misfire due to calcium fluxes.
The findings – the first recorded in vivo using a transgenic mouse model of Parkinson's disease – are published in the July 18 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience and provide new insights into how Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders known as synucleinopathies work and progress at the cellular level.
Previous in vitro studies using cell cultures had suggested abnormal accumulation of alpha-synuclein dysregulated intracellular handling and movement of calcium, which is used as a signaling molecule and neurotransmitter. It was unclear, however, whether calcium alterations occurred in more complex, living animals.
"This is the first time we've been able to verify the role of alpha-synuclein aggregates in vivo," said senior author Eliezer Masliah, MD, professor of neurosciences and pathology.
"The aggregates affect the cell membrane of neurons, making them more porous. They also affect the membranes of organelles inside neurons, such as the mitochondria that are part of the cell's machinery for generating energy. Energy is necessary to pump calcium in and out of the cell. If mitochondria membranes are compromised, calcium accumulates, further damaging the neuron and causing it to misfire."
Masliah said the new revelations, made using imaging technologies developed by first author Anna Devor, PhD, associate adjunct professor of neuroscience, may help scientists and doctors quantify and repair neuronal damage caused by alpha-synuclein accumulation.
"We have already started to utilize this discovery as a bio-marker and reporter of neuronal damage," said Masliah. "We have compounds developed in collaboration with others to 'plug' the holes in the neurons and mitochondria and prevent the abnormal calcium currents. We can monitor in real-time in live animals how our drugs revert the toxic effects of alpha-synuclein. This represents a unique and fast strategy to evaluate novel compounds."
Co-authors are Lidia Reznichenko, Qun Cheng, Krystal Nizar, Payam A. Saisan, Edward M. Rockenstein, Tanya Gonzalez, Christina Patrick, Brian Spencer and Paula Desplats, Department of Neurosciences, UCSD; Sergey L. Gratiy, Department of Radiology, UCSD; Anders M. Dale, departments of Neurosciences and Radiology, UCSD; Anna Devor, departments of Neurosciences and Radiology, UCSD; and Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Funding for this research came, in part, from the National Institute on Aging (grant AG-02270), The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (grants NS-051188, NS-057198 and NS-0507096), the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (grants EB-009118 and EB-000790) and the Short Family Fund.
Scott LaFee | EurekAlert!
Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences
Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller University
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
08.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.03.2018 | Life Sciences