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No detectable effect on visual responses using functional MRI in a rodent model of α-synuclein expression

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Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is typically diagnosed late in its progression. There is a need for biomarkers suitable for monitoring the disease progression at earlier stages to guide the development of novel neuroprotective therapies. One potential biomarker, α-synuclein, has been found in both the familial cases of PD, as well as the sporadic cases and is considered a key feature of PD. α-synuclein is naturally present in the retina, and it has been suggested that early symptoms of the visual system may be used as a biomarker for PD. Here, we use a viral vector to induce a unilateral expression of human wild-type α-synuclein in rats as a mechanistic model of protein aggregation in PD. We employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate whether adeno-associated virus (AAV) mediated expression of human wild-type α-synuclein alter functional activity in the visual system. A total of 16 rats were injected with either AAV-α-synuclein ( n  = 7) or AAV-null ( n  = 9) in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) of the left hemisphere. The expression of α-synuclein was validated by a motor assay and postmortem immunohistochemistry. Five months after the introduction of the AAV-vector, fMRI showed robust blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) responses to light stimulation in the visual systems of both control and AAV-α-synuclein animals. However, our results demonstrate that the expression of AAV-α-synuclein does not affect functional activation of the visual system. This negative finding suggests that fMRI-based read-outs of visual responses may not be a sensitive biomarker for PD.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
ArtikelnummerENEURO.0516-20.2021
TidsskrifteNeuro
Vol/bind8
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)1-9
Antal sider9
ISSN2373-2822
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 20 maj 2021

ID: 65431006