Synucleinopathies are a spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the intracellular deposition of the protein α-synuclein leading to multiple outcomes, including dementia and Parkinsonism.
We review the literature of genetic PD autopsies from cases with molecularly confirmed PD or parkinsonism and summarize main findings on SNCA (n = 25), Parkin (n = 20, 17 bi-allelic and 3 heterozygotes), PINK1 (n = 5, 1 bi-allelic and 4 heterozygotes), DJ-1 (n = 1), LRRK2 (n = 55), GBA (n = 10 Gaucher disease patients with parkinsonism), DNAJC13, GCH1, ATP13A2, PLA2G6 (n = 8 patients, 2 with PD), MPAN (n = 2), FBXO7, RAB39B, and ATXN2 (SCA2), as well as on 22q deletion syndrome (n = 3).
We found that over half of the reported cases with SNCA duplication had early-onset parkinsonism and non-motor features, such as dysautonomia, rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD), hallucinations (usually visual) and cognitive deficits leading to dementia.
An analysis of 43 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms across the SNCA locus shows 2 distinct association profiles for symptoms of parkinsonism and/or dementia, respectively, toward the 3' or the 5' of the SNCA gene.
In addition, NCGC607 reduced α-synuclein levels in dopaminergic neurons from the patients with parkinsonism, suggesting that noninhibitory small-molecule chaperones of glucocerebrosidase may prove useful for the treatment of Parkinson disease.
The patients carrying the SNCA triplication developed early-onset parkinsonism combined with depression, behavior disturbances, sleep disorders, and cognitive decline; marked autonomic dysfunctions were not observed.
MSA is a slowly evolving disorder characterized by progressive loss of autonomic nervous system function and often signs of parkinsonism; the neuropathological hallmark of MSA is glial cytoplasmic inclusions consisting of filaments of α-synuclein.
The SNCA duplication case presented with a clinical phenotype of frontotemporal dementia with marked behavioural changes, pyramidal signs, postural hypotension and transiently levodopa responsive parkinsonism.
There appears to be four common processes linking the two disorders, as mutations in genes associated with Parkinsonism initiate similar adverse biological reactions acknowledged to stimulate Mn-induced dopaminergic cell death including; (1) disruption of mitochondrial function leading to oxidative stress, (2) abnormalities in vesicle processing, (3) altered proteasomal and lysosomal protein degradation, and (4) α-synuclein aggregation The mutual neurotoxic processes provoked by mutations in these genes in concert with the biological disturbances produced by Mn, most likely, act in synchrony to contribute to the severity, characteristics and onset of both disorders.
Specifically, mice overexpressing human wild-type aSyn under a broad neuronal promoter (Thy1-aSyn) present early, progressive motor and nonmotor deficits starting at 2-3 months, followed by parkinsonism with dopamine loss at 14 months.
Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) mutation is the most common cause of genetic-related parkinsonism and is usually associated with Lewy body pathology; however, tau, α-synuclein, and ubiquitin pathologies have also been reported.