Environmental toxins trigger PD-like progression via increased alpha-synuclein release from enteric neurons in mice

Sci Rep. 2012;2:898. doi: 10.1038/srep00898. Epub 2012 Nov 30.


Pathological studies on Parkinson's disease (PD) patients suggest that PD pathology progresses from the enteric nervous system (ENS) and the olfactory bulb into the central nervous system. We have previously shown that environmental toxins acting locally on the ENS mimic this PD-like pathology progression pattern in mice. Here, we show for the first time that the resection of the autonomic nerves stops this progression. Moreover, our results show that an environmental toxin (i.e. rotenone) promotes the release of alpha-synuclein by enteric neurons and that released enteric alpha-synuclein is up-taken by presynaptic sympathetic neurites and retrogradely transported to the soma, where it accumulates. These results strongly suggest that pesticides can initiate the progression of PD pathology and that this progression is based on the transneuronal and retrograde axonal transport of alpha-synuclein. If confirmed in patients, this study would have crucial implications in the strategies used to prevent and treat PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport / drug effects
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Enteric Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Enteric Nervous System / metabolism
  • Enteric Nervous System / pathology
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Mice
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / chemically induced*
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / pathology
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Rotenone / toxicity*
  • Sympathectomy
  • Vagotomy
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism*


  • Insecticides
  • alpha-Synuclein
  • Rotenone