Aggregated alpha-synuclein inclusions are found where cell death occurs in several diseases, including Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and multiple-system atrophy. However, the relationship between inclusion formation and an individual cell's fate has been difficult to study with conventional techniques. We developed a system that allows for in vivo imaging of the same neurons over months. We show that intracerebral injection of preformed fibrils of recombinant alpha-synuclein can seed aggregation of transgenically expressed and endogenous alpha-synuclein in neurons. Somatic inclusions undergo a stage-like maturation, with progressive compaction coinciding with decreased soluble somatic and nuclear alpha-synuclein. Mature inclusions bear the post-translational hallmarks of human Lewy pathology. Long-term imaging of inclusion-bearing neurons and neighboring neurons without inclusions demonstrates selective degeneration of inclusion-bearing cells. Our results indicate that inclusion formation is tightly correlated with cellular toxicity and that seeding may be a pathologically relevant mechanism of progressive neurodegeneration in many synucleinopathies.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.