Genetically engineered animal models of Parkinson's disease: From worm to rodent

Eur J Neurosci. 2019 Feb;49(4):533-560. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14300. Epub 2018 Dec 27.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder characterised by aberrant accumulation of insoluble proteins, including alpha-synuclein, and a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. The extended neurodegeneration leads to a drop of striatal dopamine levels responsible for disabling motor and non-motor impairments. Although the causes of the disease remain unclear, it is well accepted among the scientific community that the disorder may also have a genetic component. For that reason, the number of genetically engineered animal models has greatly increased over the past two decades, ranging from invertebrates to more complex organisms such as mice and rats. This trend is growing as new genetic variants associated with the disease are discovered. The EU Joint Programme - Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) has promoted the creation of an online database aiming at summarising the different features of experimental models of Parkinson's disease. This review discusses available genetic models of PD and the extent to which they adequately mirror the human pathology and reflects on future development and uses of genetically engineered experimental models for the study of PD.

Keywords: drosophila; mouse; nematode; rat; zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease*