The Lewy body in Parkinson's disease: molecules implicated in the formation and degradation of alpha-synuclein aggregates

Neuropathology. 2007 Oct;27(5):494-506. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1789.2007.00803.x.


The histological hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD) is the presence of fibrillar aggregates called Lewy bodies (LBs). LB formation has been considered to be a marker for neuronal degeneration, because neuronal loss is found in the predilection sites for LBs. To date, more than 70 molecules have been identified in LBs, in which alpha-synuclein is a major constituent of LB fibrils. Alpha-synuclein immunohistochemistry reveals that diffuse cytoplasmic staining develops into pale bodies via compaction, and that LBs arise from the peripheral portion of pale bodies. This alpha-synuclein abnormality is found in 10% of pigmented neurons in the substantia nigra and more than 50% of those in the locus ceruleus in PD. Recent studies have suggested that oligomers and protofibrils of alpha-synuclein are cytotoxic, and that LBs may represent a cytoprotective mechanism in PD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Stem / metabolism
  • Brain Stem / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Enzymes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lewy Bodies / metabolism
  • Lewy Bodies / pathology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism*


  • Enzymes
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • alpha-Synuclein