Alpha-synuclein-glucocerebrosidase interactions in pharmacological Gaucher models: A biological link between Gaucher disease and parkinsonism

The Parkinson’s Institute, 675 Almanor Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085, USA.

A growing body of experimental and clinical literature indicates an association between Gaucher disease and parkinsonism, raising the possibility that convergent mechanisms may contribute to neurodegeneration in these disorders. The aim of this study was to determine whether there is a relationship between alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn), a key protein in Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis, and abnormalities in glucocerebroside (GC) catabolism that lead to the development of Gaucher disease. We inhibited glucocerebrosidase (GCase) with conduritol B epoxide (CBE) in neuroblastoma cells and mice to test whether a biological link exists between GCase activity and alpha-syn. After CBE exposure, enhanced alpha-syn protein was detected in differentiated cells challenged with CBE as compared to vehicle, with no change in alpha-syn mRNA. In the mouse model, after one injection of CBE, elevated nigral alpha-syn levels were also detected. Analyses by Western blot and confocal microscopy revealed that normal alpha-syn distribution was perturbed after CBE exposure with its accumulation apparent within nigral cell bodies as well as astroglia. These findings raise the possibility that alpha-syn may contribute to the cascade of events that promote neuronal dysfunction in Gaucher disease and are the first to implicate this protein as a plausible biological intersection between Gaucher disease and parkinsonism using a pharmacological model.

PMID: 19576930 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]