Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, neuropathologically characterized by misfolded protein aggregation, called Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites. PD is a slow-progressive disease with colonic dysfunction appearing in the prodromal stage and lasting throughout the course of the disease.
In order to study PD pathology in the colon, we examined the age-dependent morphological and pathological changes in the colon of a PD mouse model expressing human wildtype α-synuclein (α-syn) fused with the green fluorescent protein (GFP), under the endogenous mouse α-syn promoter.
We observed an age-dependent progressive expression and accumulation of α-syn-GFP in the enteric neurons of Meissner’s (submucosal) and Auerbach’s (myenteric) plexuses of the colon. Additionally, the phosphorylation of α-syn at serine 129 also increased with age and the aggregation of α-syn-GFP coincided with the appearance of motor deficits at 9 months of age. Furthermore, α-syn (-GFP) distinctly co-localized with different subtypes of neurons, as identified by immunohistochemical labeling of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), and calretinin.
Our results show the development of α-syn pathology in the enteric neurons of the colon in a PD mouse model, which coincide with the appearance of motor deficits. Our mouse model possesses the potential and uniqueness for studying PD gastrointestinal dysfunction.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.