Immunogenetics of Parkinson's disease: Translational studies from rodents to humans

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative disease, characterized by a progressive loss
of dopaminergic neurons (DN) in the substantia nigra (SN) that innervate the striatum (ST) and pathological
accumulation of alpha-synuclein (αsyn) protein in aggregates called Lewy bodies (LB) and Lewy neurites
(LN). As a complex disease, PD presents a genetically heterogeneous origin. Mutations in single genes
account for 5-10% of all the cases. The remaining 90-95% of the cases present a complex and
multifactorial etiology, where there is an interplay between genetic and environmental factors that can
synergize to initiate the selective degeneration of DN in the SN and the development of PD pathology. In
this thesis, we aimed to contribute to the understating of the genetic architecture of PD, and its implications
in the DN loss and inflammatory aspects of the disease. We first explored differences in dopaminergic
susceptibility in two mouse strains that have a partial loss of Engrailed 1 (en1), a gene important for
dopaminergic neuronal development and survival. Using linkage analysis, we identified 23 loci determining
dopaminergic susceptibility. The next part of the thesis was focus on immune mechanisms in PD, for that
we used a congenic rat strain to study whether allelic variants of Mhc2ta, could affect α-syn-induced
pathology and dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Our results identified Mhc2ta as a facilitator and
aggravator of PD-like αsyn pathology. The last part of this thesis, was focused on determining the
frequency of known pathogenic variants causing PD, in a Swedish multi-center sample collection. Out of
7 studied pathogenic variants, we identified the LRRK2 p.G2019S mutation and SNCA duplication to be
present at a low frequency among Swedish patients, supporting the notion of the very complex genetic
architecture of PD, and suggesting other factors underlying PD risk in this population. Overall, the results
gathered in this thesis have given insight into the complex genetics underlying disease risk and identifying
MHC2TA as a potential modulator of the immune response in PD.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Natural Sciences


  • genetics; inflammation, α-synuclein, dopaminergic neurons, MHCII, Mhc2ta, Vra4, PFFs, microglia
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2019 Sep 6
Place of PublicationLund
  • Lund University: Faculty of Medicine
Print ISBNs978-91-7619-800-1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defense details Date: 2019-09-06 Time: 13:15 Place: Segerfalksalen, Wallenberg Neurocentrum External reviewer (s) Name: Tansey, Malú Title: Dr. Affiliation: Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease, Institute for Neurological Diseases University of Florida

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Related research output

Kurowska, Z., Jewett, M., Brattås, P. L., Itzia Jimenez, Kenéz, X., Tomas Björklund, Nordström, U., Brundin, P. & Maria Swanberg, 2016 Aug 23, In : Scientific Reports. 6, 31701.

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