Glial cytoplasmic inclusions in white matter oligodendrocytes of multiple system atrophy brains contain insoluble alpha-synuclein

Ann Neurol. 1998 Sep;44(3):415-22. doi: 10.1002/ana.410440324.


Recently, alpha-synuclein was shown to be a structural component of the filaments in Lewy bodies (LBs) of Parkinson's disease (PD), dementia with LBs (DLB) as well as the LB variant of Alzheimer's disease, and this suggests that alpha-synuclein could play a mechanistic role in the pathogenesis of these disorders. To determine whether alpha-synuclein is a building block of inclusions in other neurodegenerative movement disorders, we examined brains from patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA) and detected alpha-synuclein, but not beta- or gamma-synuclein, in glial cytoplasmic inclusions (GCIs) throughout the MSA brain. In MSA white matter, alpha-synuclein-positive GCIs were restricted to oligodendrocytes, and alpha-synuclein was localized to the filaments in GCIs by immunoelectron microscopy. Finally, we demonstrated that insoluble alpha-synuclein accumulated selectively in MSA white matter with alpha-synuclein-positive GCIs. Taken together with evidence that LBs contain insoluble alpha-synuclein, our data suggest that a reduction in the solubility of alpha-synuclein may induce this protein to form filaments that aggregate into cytoplasmic inclusions, which contribute to the dysfunction or death of glial cells as well as neurons in neurodegenerative disorders with different phenotypes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / chemistry
  • Actin Cytoskeleton / immunology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / chemistry
  • Inclusion Bodies / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple System Atrophy / metabolism
  • Multiple System Atrophy / pathology*
  • Myelin Sheath / chemistry
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / immunology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Neuroglia / chemistry
  • Neuroglia / pathology*
  • Oligodendroglia / chemistry
  • Oligodendroglia / pathology*
  • Solubility
  • Synucleins
  • alpha-Synuclein
  • gamma-Synuclein


  • Antibodies
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • SNCA protein, human
  • Synucleins
  • alpha-Synuclein
  • gamma-Synuclein