Lateralized deficits after unilateral AAV-vector based overexpression of alpha-synuclein in the midbrain of rats on drug-free behavioral tests

F. Gubinelli, G. Cazzolla, M. Negrini, I. Kulacz, A. Mehrdadian, G. Tomasello, C. Venuti, L. Sarauskyte, F. Jacobs, F. P. Manfredsson, M. Davidsson, A. Heuer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Preclinical rodent models of Parkinson's aim to recapitulate some of the hallmarks of the disease as it presents in humans, including the progressive neuronal loss of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain as well as the development of a behavioral phenotype. AAV vector-based models of alpha-synuclein overexpression are a promising tool to achieve such animal models with high face and predictive validity. Objective: We have developed a preclinical rodent model of Parkinson's disease using an AAV-vector based overexpression of human alpha-synuclein. In the present work we characterize this model on a behavioral and histopathological level. Methods: We use a AAV9 vector for transgene delivery to overexpress human alpha-synuclein under a CBA promoter. We compare the behavioral and histopathological changes to a AAV vector control group where the transgene was omitted and to that of a 6-OHDA lesion control. We assessed the behavioral performance of these three groups on a series of tests (Cylinder, Stepping, Corridor) at baseline and up to 22 weeks post-injection at which point we performed electrochemical recordings of dopamine kinetics. Results: The overexpression of human alpha-synuclein led to the progressive manifestation of behavioral deficits on all three behavioral tests. This was accompanied with impaired dopamine release and reuptake kinetics as demonstrated by electrochemical detection methods. Histopathological quantifications corroborated the findings that we induced a moderate cell loss with remaining cells displaying pathological markers which are abundant in the brains of human PD patients. Conclusions: In the present work we developed a characterized a rat model of PD that closely mimics human disease development and pathology. Such model will be of great use for investigation of disease mechanisms and early therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113887
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jul 5

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurosciences

Free keywords

  • AAV vector
  • Alphasynuclein
  • Animal models
  • Behavioral test
  • Parkinson's disease


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