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New mouse model provides insight into human α-synuclein accumulation in Parkinson's disease

SYDNEY – A new mouse model that demonstrates the role of α-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease (PD) was presented today at the 17th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders. By studying the accumulation of α-synuclein in mice, researchers are hopeful that this could lead to a new way to study the cause of PD.

Evidence suggests that the progression of PD is effected by the accumulation of α-synuclein aggregates. Christian Hansen, PhD of Lund University, Sweden, and colleagues describe a novel Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) transgenic model, in which they have expressed wild-type human α-synuclein fused to green fluorescent protein under control of the mouse α-synuclein promoter.

“One of the problems with trying to model Parkinson's disease (PD) in animals in the laboratory is that they often fail to recapitulate the main abnormalities that you see in patients- namely progressive motor deficits with the slow accumulation of the alpha synuclein protein that forms the defining pathology of PD,” states Dr. Roger Barker, Cambridge Center for Brain Repair.

Hansen and his colleagues observed a high expression of α-synuclein green fluorescent protein in various parts of the brain. As the mice aged, they progressively developed decreased motor and non-motor performance and increased formation of α-synuclein aggregates.

“In this new study, a novel model of PD is reported on, that works through the artificial introduction of alpha synuclein using a transgenic approach,” Barker adds. “The mice so generated display a slow age dependent accumulation of aggregated alpha synuclein with behavioural deficits. As such this new model will provide scientists with a useful tool by which to study and treat the accumulation of the protein that lies at the heart of PD.”

By studying the increase of α-synuclein in the brains of living mice, researchers now have a tool for the future study of PD causes in human subjects.

About the 17th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders:
Meeting attendees are gathered to learn the latest research findings and state-of-the-art treatment options in Movement Disorders, including Parkinson's disease. More than 2,000 physicians and medical professionals from 70 countries will be able to view over 1,300 scientific abstracts submitted by clinicians from around the world.

About The Movement Disorder Society:
The Movement Disorder Society, an international society of over 4,000 clinicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. For more information about The Movement Disorder Society, visit