Early and Persistent Expression of Phosphorylated α-Synuclein in the Enteric Nervous System of A53T Mutant Human α-Synuclein Transgenic Mice

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Alpha-synuclein is a key protein in Parkinson disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies. It is found in Lewy bodies in the brains of PD patients and has been reported in the peripheral nervous system in postmortem tissues from PD patients and in biopsies from patients in the preclinical phase of PD. Here, we used a transgenic mouse model of human synucleinopathies expressing the A53T mutant α-synuclein (TgM83) in which a neurodegenerative process associated with α-synuclein occurs spontaneously and increases with age. In particular, α-synuclein protein phosphorylated at serine 129 (pSer129 α-synuclein) naturally and progressively increases in diseased brains. We examined the time course of pSer129 α-synuclein presence in the gut of these mice between 1.5 and 22 months of age using immunohistochemistry and paraffin-embedded tissue blots. The pSer129 α-synuclein accumulated early (before the onset of motor signs) and persistently in the enteric nervous system and was concomitantly found in the brain. These results suggest that the accumulation of phosphorylated α-synuclein in the enteric and central nervous systems may result from parallel pathologic processes when the disease is linked to a mutation of α-synuclein.

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