Alpha-synuclein promotes dopaminergic neuron death in Parkinson’s disease through microglial and NLRP3 activation

Main Article Content

Sarah Klein


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that involves the death of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). After neuronal death, the subsequent reduction of dopamine levels in the brain induces motor deficits characteristic of this hypokinetic disorder. Although there is currently no known cause of PD, alpha-synuclein appears to have a prominent role in both microglial and NLRP3 inflammasome activation. The consequential release of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β) has been demonstrated to be responsible for neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in PD. The present review highlights the role of alpha-synuclein aggregates in Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis. The PD alpha-synuclein preformed fibril (PFF) animal model permits the specific targeting of alpha-synuclein-mediated microglial and NLRP3 inflammasome activation in newly designed therapies. Studies using this model suggest MCC950 and its analogs as a potential new treatment to prevent neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease.