A de novo compound targeting α-synuclein improves deficits in models of Parkinson's disease

Brain. 2016 Dec;139(Pt 12):3217-3236. doi: 10.1093/brain/aww238. Epub 2016 Sep 27.


Abnormal accumulation and propagation of the neuronal protein α-synuclein has been hypothesized to underlie the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy. Here we report a de novo-developed compound (NPT100-18A) that reduces α-synuclein toxicity through a novel mechanism that involves displacing α-synuclein from the membrane. This compound interacts with a domain in the C-terminus of α-synuclein. The E83R mutation reduces the compound interaction with the 80-90 amino acid region of α-synuclein and prevents the effects of NPT100-18A. In vitro studies showed that NPT100-18A reduced the formation of wild-type α-synuclein oligomers in membranes, reduced the neuronal accumulation of α-synuclein, and decreased markers of cell toxicity. In vivo studies were conducted in three different α-synuclein transgenic rodent models. Treatment with NPT100-18A ameliorated motor deficits in mThy1 wild-type α-synuclein transgenic mice in a dose-dependent manner at two independent institutions. Neuropathological examination showed that NPT100-18A decreased the accumulation of proteinase K-resistant α-synuclein aggregates in the CNS and was accompanied by the normalization of neuronal and inflammatory markers. These results were confirmed in a mutant line of α-synuclein transgenic mice that is prone to generate oligomers. In vivo imaging studies of α-synuclein-GFP transgenic mice using two-photon microscopy showed that NPT100-18A reduced the cortical synaptic accumulation of α-synuclein within 1 h post-administration. Taken together, these studies support the notion that altering the interaction of α-synuclein with the membrane might be a feasible therapeutic approach for developing new disease-modifying treatments of Parkinson's disease and other synucleinopathies.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; alpha-synuclein; cellular mechanisms; experimental models; synucleinopathy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiparkinson Agents / pharmacology*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Discovery*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • alpha-Synuclein / drug effects*


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • alpha-Synuclein