The Prion-Like Spreading of Alpha-Synuclein in Parkinson's Disease: Update on Models and Hypotheses

Asad Jan*, Nádia Pereira Gonçalves, Christian Bjerggaard Vaegter, Poul Henning Jensen, Nelson Ferreira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperReviewResearchpeer-review


The pathological aggregation of the presynaptic protein α-synuclein (α-syn) and propagation through synaptically coupled neuroanatomical tracts is increasingly thought to underlie the pathophysiological progression of Parkinson's disease (PD) and related synucleinopathies. Although the precise molecular mechanisms responsible for the spreading of pathological α-syn accumulation in the CNS are not fully understood, growing evidence suggests that de novo α-syn misfolding and/or neuronal internalization of aggregated α-syn facilitates conformational templating of endogenous α-syn monomers in a mechanism reminiscent of prions. A refined understanding of the biochemical and cellular factors mediating the pathological neuron-to-neuron propagation of misfolded α-syn will potentially elucidate the etiology of PD and unravel novel targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we discuss recent developments on the hypothesis regarding trans-synaptic propagation of α-syn pathology in the context of neuronal vulnerability and highlight the potential utility of novel experimental models of synucleinopathies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8338
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Alpha‐synuclein
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Prion‐like


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