Association of Glial Activation and α-Synuclein Pathology in Parkinson's Disease

Neurosci Bull. 2022 Oct 14. doi: 10.1007/s12264-022-00957-z. Online ahead of print.


The accumulation of pathological α-synuclein (α-syn) in the central nervous system and the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta are the neuropathological features of Parkinson's disease (PD). Recently, the findings of prion-like transmission of α-syn pathology have expanded our understanding of the region-specific distribution of α-syn in PD patients. Accumulating evidence suggests that α-syn aggregates are released from neurons and endocytosed by glial cells, which contributes to the clearance of α-syn. However, the activation of glial cells by α-syn species produces pro-inflammatory factors that decrease the uptake of α-syn aggregates by glial cells and promote the transmission of α-syn between neurons, which promotes the spread of α-syn pathology. In this article, we provide an overview of current knowledge on the role of glia and α-syn pathology in PD pathogenesis, highlighting the relationships between glial responses and the spread of α-syn pathology.

Keywords: Astrocyte activation; Microglial activation; Neuroinflammation; Parkinson's disease; α-synuclein pathology.

Publication types

  • Review