Peripheral inflammation exacerbates α-synuclein toxicity and neuropathology in Parkinson's models

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2021 Feb;47(1):43-60. doi: 10.1111/nan.12644. Epub 2020 Aug 6.


Aims: Parkinson's disease and related disorders are devastating neurodegenerative pathologies. Since α-synuclein was identified as a main component of Lewy bodies and neurites, efforts have been made to clarify the pathogenic mechanisms of α-synuclein's detrimental effects. α-synuclein oligomers are the most harmful species and may recruit and activate glial cells. Inflammation is emerging as a bridge between genetic susceptibility and environmental factors co-fostering Parkinson's disease. However, direct evidence linking inflammation to the harmful activities of α-synuclein oligomers or to the Parkinson's disease behavioural phenotype is lacking.

Methods: To clarify whether neuroinflammation influences Parkinson's disease pathogenesis, we developed: (i) a 'double-hit' approach in C57BL/6 naive mice where peripherally administered lipopolysaccharides were followed by intracerebroventricular injection of an inactive oligomer dose; (ii) a transgenic 'double-hit' model where lipopolysaccharides were given to A53T α-synuclein transgenic Parkinson's disease mice.

Results: Lipopolysaccharides induced a long-lasting neuroinflammatory response which facilitated the detrimental cognitive activities of oligomers. LPS-activated microglia and astrocytes responded differently to the oligomers with microglia activating further and acquiring a pro-inflammatory M1 phenotype, while astrocytes atrophied. In the transgenic 'double-hit' A53T mouse model, lipopolysaccharides aggravated cognitive deficits and increased microgliosis. Again, astrocytes responded differently to the double challenge. These findings indicate that peripherally induced neuroinflammation potentiates the α-synuclein oligomer's actions and aggravates cognitive deficits in A53T mice.

Conclusions: The fine management of both peripheral and central inflammation may offer a promising therapeutic approach to prevent or slow down some behavioural aspects in α-synucleinopathies.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; neuroinflammation; nonmotor deficits; oligomeropathies; α-synuclein oligomers.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / drug therapy
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Substantia Nigra / drug effects
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism*
  • alpha-Synuclein / pharmacology


  • Snca protein, mouse
  • alpha-Synuclein