The MHC class II transactivator modulates seeded alpha-synuclein pathology and dopaminergic neurodegeneration in an in vivo rat model of Parkinson's disease

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Abstract

Background: Abnormal folding, aggregation and spreading of alpha-synuclein (αsyn) is a mechanistic hypothesis for the progressive neuropathology in Parkinson's disease (PD). Spread of αsyn between cells is supported by clinical, neuropathological and experimental evidence. It has been proposed that a pro-inflammatory micro-environment in response to αsyn can promote its aggregation. We have previously shown that allelic differences in the major histocompatibility complex class two transactivator (Mhc2ta) gene, located in the VRA4 locus, alter MHCII expression levels, microglial activation and antigen presentation capacity in rats upon human αsyn over-expression. In addition, Mhc2ta regulated dopaminergic neurodegeneration and the extent of motor impairment. The purpose of this study was to determine whether Mhc2ta regulates αsyn aggregation, propagation and dopaminergic pathology in an αsyn pre-formed fibril (PFF)-seeded in vivo model of PD. Methods: The DA and DA.VRA4 congenic rat strains share background genome but display differential microglial antigen presenting capacity due to different Mhc2ta alleles in the VRA4 locus. PFFs of human αsyn or BSA solution were injected unilaterally to the striatum of DA and DA.VRA4 rats two weeks after ipsilateral administration of recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors carrying human αsyn or GFP to the substantia nigra pars compacta. Behavioural assessment was performed at 2, 5 and 8 weeks while histological evaluation of αsyn pathology, inflammation and neurodegeneration as well as determination of serum cytokine profiles were performed at 8 weeks. Results: rAAV-mediated expression of human αsyn in nigral dopaminergic neurons combined with striatal PFF administration induced enhanced αsyn pathology in DA.VRA4 compared to DA rats. Mhc2ta thus significantly regulated the seeding, propagation and toxicity of αsyn in vivo. This was reflected in terms of wider extent and anatomical distribution of αsyn inclusions, ranging from striatum to the forebrain, midbrain, hindbrain and cerebellum in DA.VRA4. Compared to DA rats, DA.VRA4 also displayed enhanced motor impairment and dopaminergic neurodegeneration as well as higher levels of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-2 and TNFα in serum. Conclusions: We conclude that the key regulator of MHCII expression, Mhc2ta, modulates neuroinflammation, αsyn-seeded Lewy-like pathology, dopaminergic neurodegeneration and motor impairment. This makes Mhc2ta and microglial antigen presentation promising therapeutic targets for reducing the progressive neuropathology and clinical manifestations in PD.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • University of Pennsylvania
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Neurosciences

Keywords

  • Alpha-synuclein, Dopaminergic neurons, Mhc2ta, MHCII, Microglia, Neurodegeneration, Neuroinflammation, Parkinson's disease, PFF, Pre-formed fibrils
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-382
Number of pages14
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Volume91
Early online date2020 Oct 22
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes