Differential neuropathological alterations in transgenic mice expressing alpha-synuclein from the platelet-derived growth factor and Thy-1 promoters

J Neurosci Res. 2002 Jun 1;68(5):568-78. doi: 10.1002/jnr.10231.


Accumulation of alpha-synuclein has been associated with neurodegenerative disorders, such as Lewy body disease and multiple system atrophy. We previously showed that expression of wild-type human alpha-synuclein in transgenic mice results in motor and dopaminergic deficits associated with inclusion formation. To determine whether different levels of human alpha-synuclein expression from distinct promoters might result in neuropathology mimicking other synucleopathies, we compared patterns of human alpha-synuclein accumulation in the brains of transgenic mice expressing this molecule from the murine Thy-1 and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) promoters. In murine Thy-1-human alpha-synuclein transgenic mice, this protein accumulated in synapses and neurons throughout the brain, including the thalamus, basal ganglia, substantia nigra, and brainstem. Expression of human alpha-synuclein from the PDGF promoter resulted in accumulation in synapses of the neocortex, limbic system, and olfactory regions as well as formation of inclusion bodies in neurons in deeper layers of the neocortex. Furthermore, one of the intermediate expressor lines (line M) displayed human alpha-synuclein expression in glial cells mimicking some features of multiple system atrophy. These results show a more widespread accumulation of human alpha-synuclein in transgenic mouse brains. Taken together, these studies support the contention that human alpha-synuclein expression in transgenic mice might mimic some neuropathological alterations observed in Lewy body disease and other synucleopathies, such as multiple system atrophy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Lewy Body Disease / pathology*
  • Lewy Body Disease / physiopathology
  • Limbic System / pathology
  • Limbic System / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Multiple System Atrophy / pathology
  • Multiple System Atrophy / physiopathology
  • Neocortex / pathology
  • Neocortex / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / pathology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics*
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology
  • Substantia Nigra / physiology
  • Synucleins
  • Thy-1 Antigens / genetics*
  • alpha-Synuclein


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • SNCA protein, human
  • Snca protein, mouse
  • Synucleins
  • Thy-1 Antigens
  • alpha-Synuclein