Dopaminergic neuron loss in mice due to increased levels of wild-type human α-Synuclein only takes place under conditions of accelerated aging

Sci Rep. 2024 Jan 30;14(1):2490. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-53093-1.


Understanding the intricate pathogenic mechanisms behind Parkinson's disease (PD) and its multifactorial nature presents a significant challenge in disease modeling. To address this, we explore genetic models that better capture the disease's complexity. Given that aging is the primary risk factor for PD, this study investigates the impact of aging in conjunction with overexpression of wild-type human α-synuclein (α-Syn) in the dopaminergic system. This is achieved by introducing a novel transgenic mouse strain overexpressing α-Syn under the TH-promoter within the senescence-accelerated SAMP8 (P8) genetic background. Behavioral assessments, conducted at both 10 and 16 months of age, unveil motor impairments exclusive to P8 α-SynTg mice, a phenomenon conspicuously absent in α-SynTg mice. These findings suggest a synergistic interplay between heightened α-Syn levels and the aging process, resulting in motor deficits. These motor disturbances correlate with reduced dopamine (DA) levels, increased DA turnover, synaptic terminal loss, and notably, the depletion of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and noradrenergic neurons in the locus coeruleus. Furthermore, P8 α-SynTg mice exhibit alterations in gut transit time, mirroring early PD symptoms. In summary, P8 α-SynTg mice effectively replicate parkinsonian phenotypes by combining α-Syn transgene expression with accelerated aging. This model offers valuable insights into the understanding of PD and serves as a valuable platform for further research.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease* / metabolism
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism
  • alpha-Synuclein* / genetics
  • alpha-Synuclein* / metabolism


  • alpha-Synuclein
  • Dopamine
  • SNCA protein, human