Missense mutations in the α-synuclein gene cause familial Parkinson's disease (PD), and α-synuclein is a major component of Lewy bodies (LBs) in sporadic PD, dementia with LBs (DLB), and the LB variant of Alzheimer's disease (AD). To determine whether α-synuclein is a component of LBs in familial AD (FAD) patients with known mutations in presenilin (n = 65) or amyloid precursor protein (n = 9) genes, studies were conducted with antibodies to α-, β-, and γ-synuclein. LBs were detected with α- but not β- or γ-synuclein antibodies in 22% of FAD brains, and α-synuclein- positive LBs were most numerous in amygdala where some LBs co-localized with tau-positive neurofibrillary tangles. As 12 (63%) of 19 FAD amygdala samples contained α-synuclein-positive LBs, these inclusions may be more common in FAD brains than previously reported. Furthermore, α-synuclein antibodies decorated LB filaments by immunoelectron microscopy, and Western blots revealed that the solubility of α-synuclein was reduced compared with control brains. The presence of α-synuclein-positive LBs was not associated with any specific FAD mutation. These studies suggest that insoluble α- synuclein aggregates into filaments that form LBs in many FAD patients, and we speculate that these inclusions may compromise the function and/or viability of affected neurons in the FAD brain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine