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Kinetics of α-synuclein prions preceding neuropathological inclusions in multiple system atrophy.

  • Author(s): Woerman, Amanda L
  • Patel, Smita
  • Kazmi, Sabeen A
  • Oehler, Abby
  • Lee, Jisoo
  • Mordes, Daniel A
  • Olson, Steven H
  • Prusiner, Stanley B
  • et al.

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Multiple system atrophy (MSA), a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by autonomic dysfunction and motor impairment, is caused by the self-templated misfolding of the protein α-synuclein. With no treatment currently available, we sought to characterize the spread of α-synuclein in a transgenic mouse model of MSA prion propagation to support drug discovery programs for synucleinopathies. Brain homogenates from MSA patient samples or mouse-passaged MSA were inoculated either by standard freehand injection or stereotactically into TgM83+/- mice, which express human α-synuclein with the A53T mutation. Following disease onset, brains from the mice were tested for biologically active α-synuclein prions using a cell-based assay and examined for α-synuclein neuropathology. Inoculation studies using homogenates prepared from brain regions lacking detectable α-synuclein neuropathology transmitted neurological disease to mice. Terminal animals contained similar concentrations of α-synuclein prions; however, a time-course study where mice were terminated every five days through disease progression revealed that the kinetics of α-synuclein prion replication in the mice were variable. Stereotactic inoculation into the thalamus reduced variability in disease onset in the mice, although incubation times were consistent with standard inoculations. Using human samples with and without neuropathological lesions, we observed that α-synuclein prion formation precedes neuropathology in the brain, suggesting that disease in patients is not limited to brain regions containing neuropathological lesions.

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