Parkinson's disease (PD) is a multicentred neurodegenerative disorder characterised by the accumulation and aggregation of alpha-synuclein (α-syn) in several parts of the central nervous system. However, it is well established that PD can generate symptoms of constipation and other gastrointestinal problems and α-syn containing lesions have been identified in intestinal nerve cells. In this study, we show that α-syn can be taken up and accumulate in primary human foetal enteric neurons from the gastrointestinal tract and can be transferred between foetal enteric neurons. Impaired proteosomal/lysosomal degradation can promote the uptake and accumulation of α-syn in enteric neurons. Enteric neurons exposed to α-syn can also lead to impaired mitochondrial complex I activity, reduced mitochondrial function, and NAD+ depletion culminating in cell death via energy restriction. These findings demonstrate neuron-to-neuron transmission of α-syn in enteric neurons, providing renewed evidence for Braak's hypothesis and the aetiology of PD.
- Parkinson's disease