The alpha-synucleinopathies: Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and multiple system atrophy

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2000;920:16-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2000.tb06900.x.


Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, after Alzheimer's disease. Neuropathologically, it is characterized by the degeneration of populations of nerve cells that develop filamentous inclusions in the form of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites. Recent work has shown that the filamentous inclusions of Parkinson's disease are made of the protein alpha-synuclein and that rare, familial forms of Parkinson's disease are caused by missense mutations in the alpha-synuclein gene. Besides Parkinson's disease, the filamentous inclusions of two additional neurodegenerative diseases, namely, dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy, have also been found to be made of alpha-synuclein. Recombinant alpha-synuclein has been shown to assemble into filaments with similar morphologies to those found in the human diseases and with a cross-beta fiber diffraction pattern. The new work has established the alpha-synucleinopathies as a major class of neurodegenerative disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Lewy Bodies / pathology*
  • Lewy Body Disease / genetics
  • Lewy Body Disease / pathology*
  • Multiple System Atrophy / genetics
  • Multiple System Atrophy / pathology*
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Synucleins
  • alpha-Synuclein


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • SNCA protein, human
  • Synucleins
  • alpha-Synuclein