Movement disorders : official journal of the Movement Disorder Society

Viral-mediated oligodendroglial alpha-synuclein expression models multiple system atrophy.

PMID 28556404


MSA is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a combination of autonomic dysfunction, cerebellar ataxia, and l-dopa unresponsive parkinsonism. The hallmark of MSA is the accumulation of α-synuclein, forming cytoplasmic inclusions in oligodendrocytes. Adeno-associated viruses allow efficient targeting of disease-associated genes in selected cellular ensembles and have proven efficient for the neuronal overexpression of α-synuclein in the substantia nigra in the context of PD. We aimed to develop viral-based models of MSA. Chimeric viral vectors expressing either human wild-type α-synuclein or green fluorescent protein under the control of mouse myelin basic protein were injected in the striatum of rats and monkeys. Rats underwent a longitudinal motor assessment before histopathological analysis at 3 and 6 months. Injection of vectors expressing α-synuclein in the striatum resulted in >80% oligodendroglial selectivity in rats and >60% in monkeys. Rats developed progressive motor deficits that were l-dopa unresponsive when assessed at 6 months. Significant loss of dopaminergic neurons occurred at 3 months, further progressing at 6 months, together with a loss of striatal neurons. Prominent α-synuclein accumulation, including phosphorylated and proteinase-K-resistant α-synuclein, was detected in the striatum and substantia nigra. Viral-mediated oligodendroglial expression of α-synuclein allows replicating some of the key features of MSA. This flexible strategy can be used to investigate, in several species, how α-synuclein accumulation in selected oligodendroglial populations contributes to the pathophysiology of MSA and offers a new framework for preclinical validation of therapeutic strategies. © 2017 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.