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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Role of Synucleins in Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Author(s): Crews, Leslie
  • Tsigelny, Igor
  • Hashimoto, Makoto
  • Masliah, Eliezer
  • et al.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are the most common causes of dementia and movement disorders in the elderly. While progressive accumulation of oligomeric amyloid-β protein (Aβ) has been identified as one of the central toxic events in AD leading to synaptic dysfunction, accumulation of α-synuclein (α-syn) resulting in the formation of oligomers has been linked to PD. Most of the studies in AD have been focused on investigating the role of Aβ and Tau; however, recent studies suggest that α-syn might also play a role in the pathogenesis of AD. For example, fragments of α-syn can associate with amyloid plaques and Aβ promotes the aggregation of α-syn in vivo and worsens the deficits in α-syn tg mice. Moreover, α-syn has also been shown to accumulate in limbic regions in AD, Down’s syndrome, and familial AD cases. Aβ and α-syn might directly interact under pathological conditions leading to the formation of toxic oligomers and nanopores that increase intracellular calcium. The interactions between Aβ and α-syn might also result in oxidative stress, lysosomal leakage, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Thus, better understanding the steps involved in the process of Aβ and α-syn aggregation is important in order to develop intervention strategies that might prevent or reverse the accumulation of toxic proteins in AD.

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