Parkinson's disease (PD) affects motor function through degenerative processes and synaptic transmission impairments in the basal ganglia. None of the treatments available delays or stops the progression of the disease. While α-synuclein pathological accumulation represents a hallmark of the disease in its idiopathic form, leucine rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is genetically associated with familial and sporadic forms of PD. The genetic information suggests that LRRK2 kinase activity plays a role in the pathogenesis of the disease. To support a potential link between LRRK2 and α-synuclein in the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying PD, the effect of LRRK2 ablation or LRRK2 kinase pharmacological inhibition were studied in rats with adeno-associated virus-induced (AAV) α-synuclein overexpression in the nigrostriatal pathway. We first report that viral overexpression of α-synuclein induced increased burst firing in subthalamic neurons. Aberrant firing pattern of subthalamic neurons has also been reported in PD patients and neurotoxin-based animal models, and is hypothesized to play a key role in the appearance of motor dysfunction. We further report that genetic LRRK2 ablation, as well as pharmacological inhibition of LRRK2 kinase activity with PFE-360, reversed the aberrant firing pattern of subthalamic neurons induced by AAV-α-synuclein overexpression. This effect of LRRK2 modulation was not associated with any neuroprotective effect or motor improvement. Nonetheless, our findings may indicate a potential therapeutic benefit of LRRK2 kinase inhibition by normalizing the aberrant neuronal activity of subthalamic neurons induced by AAV-α-synuclein, a neurophysiological trait recapitulating observations in PD.
Neurobiology of Disease – Elsevier
Published: Aug 1, 2018
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