In Parkinson's disease (PD) and related disorders pathological alpha-synuclein has been discussed to propagate via a prion-like mechanism in the CNS. The application of exogenous alpha-synuclein fibrils via injection to animal models of PD has been shown to be a useful method to study prion-like propagation of pathological alpha-synuclein and of transmission pathways that play a critical role in recapitulating characteristics of synucleinopathies. Using bigenic mice expressing mutant human alpha-synuclein in neurons and firefly luciferase in astrocytes we showed that transmission via the tongue and the peritoneum represent entrance points for pathological alpha-synuclein to invade the CNS. Here we present a method to quantify astrogliosis by bioluminescence imaging in an animal model of PD. This method allows noninvasive tracking of the neuroinflammatory process that often precedes neurological signs of disease and represents an alternative to behavioral or histological and biochemical analysis to detect disease.
Keywords: Alpha-synuclein; Bioluminescence imaging; Neuroinflammation; Neuroinvasion; Parkinson’s disease; Peripheral inoculation; Prion-like; Synucleinopathy.