DOI: 10.3390/ijms25010360 ISSN: 1422-0067

Alpha-Synuclein Contribution to Neuronal and Glial Damage in Parkinson’s Disease

Kamil Saramowicz, Natalia Siwecka, Grzegorz Galita, Aleksandra Kucharska-Lusina, Wioletta Rozpędek-Kamińska, Ireneusz Majsterek
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • Catalysis

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative disease characterized by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and the widespread accumulation of alpha-synuclein (αSyn) protein aggregates. αSyn aggregation disrupts critical cellular processes, including synaptic function, mitochondrial integrity, and proteostasis, which culminate in neuronal cell death. Importantly, αSyn pathology extends beyond neurons—it also encompasses spreading throughout the neuronal environment and internalization by microglia and astrocytes. Once internalized, glia can act as neuroprotective scavengers, which limit the spread of αSyn. However, they can also become reactive, thereby contributing to neuroinflammation and the progression of PD. Recent advances in αSyn research have enabled the molecular diagnosis of PD and accelerated the development of targeted therapies. Nevertheless, despite more than two decades of research, the cellular function, aggregation mechanisms, and induction of cellular damage by αSyn remain incompletely understood. Unraveling the interplay between αSyn, neurons, and glia may provide insights into disease initiation and progression, which may bring us closer to exploring new effective therapeutic strategies. Herein, we provide an overview of recent studies emphasizing the multifaceted nature of αSyn and its impact on both neuron and glial cell damage.

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