The accumulation of alpha-synuclein (α-Syn) into Lewy bodies in cortical and subcortical regions has been linked to the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies such as Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). While there is a strong link between synuclein aggregates and the reduction in dopamine function in the emergence of PD, less is known about the consequences of α-Syn accumulation in glutamatergic neurons and how this could be exploited as a therapeutic target. Transgenic h-α-synL62 (L62) mice, in which synuclein aggregation is achieved through the expression of full-length human α-Syn fused with a signal sequence peptide, were used to characterise glutamatergic transmission using a combination of behavioural, immunoblotting, and histopathological approaches. The protein aggregation inhibitor hydromethylthionine mesylate (HMTM) alone, or in combination with the glutamatergic compounds 3-((2-Methyl-4-thiazolyl)ethynyl)pyridine hydrochloride (MTEP) and memantine, was used to target α-Syn aggregation. We show that accumulation of α-Syn aggregates in glutamatergic synapses affected synaptic protein expression including metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGLUR5) levels and ratio of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunits GluN1/GluN2A. The ratio of NMDA receptor subunits and levels of mGLUR5 were both normalised by HMTM in L62 mice. These alterations, however, did not affect glutamate release in synaptosomes derived from L62 mice or behavioural endpoints following pharmacological manipulations of glutamate functions. Our results confirm that HMTM acts in the L62 mouse model of PD as an inhibitor of pathological aggregation of synuclein and show that HMTM treatment normalises both the ratio of NMDA receptor subunits and mGLUR5 levels. These findings support the potential utility of HMTM as a disease-modifying treatment for PD aiming to reduce synuclein aggregation pathology.
The authors acknowledge Dr. Dilyara Lauer and Heide Lueck for the excellent technical support with the administration of drugs, collection of brains and sectioning of brain tissue for immunohistochemistry.
This work was funded by TauRx Therapeutics Ltd., Singapore. Z. C. was funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.
Data Availability StatementAll data are provided within the manuscript or the Supporting Information.
- Mouse model
- Parkinson's disease