Targeting alpha-synuclein via the immune system in Parkinson's disease: Current vaccine therapies

Neuropharmacology. 2022 Jan 1:202:108870. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2021.108870. Epub 2021 Nov 3.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and is defined pathologically by the abnormal accumulation of the presynaptic protein alpha-synuclein (aSyn) in the form of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites and loss of midbrain dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. Because of aSyn's involvement in both sporadic and familial forms of PD, it has become a key target for the development of novel therapeutics. Aberrant aSyn is associated with multiple mechanisms of neuronal dysfunction and degeneration including inflammation, impaired mitochondrial function, altered protein degradation systems, and oxidative stress. Inflammation, in particular, has emerged as a potential significant contributor early in the disease making it an attractive target for disease modification and neuroprotection. Thus, immunotherapies targeting aSyn are currently being investigated in pre-clinical and clinical trials. The focus of this review is to highlight the role of aSyn in neuroinflammation and discuss the current status of aSyn-directed immunotherapies in pre-clinical and clinical trials for PD.

Keywords: Alpha-synuclein; Clinical trial; Immunotherapy; Parkinson's disease; Synucleinopathy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Immunotherapy / trends
  • Immunotherapy, Active / methods*
  • Immunotherapy, Active / trends
  • Lewy Bodies / metabolism
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / trends
  • Neuroinflammatory Diseases
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Parkinson Disease / etiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / immunology
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism*


  • alpha-Synuclein