Elevated levels of oxidized cholesterol metabolites in Lewy body disease brains accelerate alpha-synuclein fibrilization

Nat Chem Biol. 2006 May;2(5):249-53. doi: 10.1038/nchembio782. Epub 2006 Mar 26.


Oxidative stress, inflammation and alpha-synuclein overexpression confer risk for development of alpha-synucleinopathies-neurodegenerative diseases that include Parkinson disease and Lewy body dementia. Dopaminergic neurons undergo degeneration in these diseases and are particularly susceptible to oxidative stress because dopamine metabolism itself creates reactive oxygen species. Intraneuronal deposition of alpha-synuclein as amyloid fibrils or Lewy bodies is the hallmark of these diseases. Herein, we demonstrate that concentrations of oxidative cholesterol metabolites derived from reactive oxygen species are elevated in the cortices of individuals with Lewy body dementia relative to those of age-matched controls, and we show that these metabolites accelerate alpha-synuclein aggregation in vitro. The increase in the production of these cytotoxic cholesterol metabolites is also observed in a dopaminergic cell line that overexpresses alpha-synuclein. By extension, these data lead to the hypothesis that oxidative stress produces cholesterol aldehydes that enable alpha-synuclein aggregation, leading to a pathologic cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lewy Body Disease / metabolism*
  • Lewy Body Disease / pathology
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Time Factors
  • alpha-Synuclein / chemistry
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism*


  • alpha-Synuclein
  • Cholesterol
  • Dopamine

Associated data

  • PubChem-Substance/10318720
  • PubChem-Substance/10318721
  • PubChem-Substance/10318722
  • PubChem-Substance/10318723