Involvement of Peripheral Nerves in the Transgenic PLP-α-Syn Model of Multiple System Atrophy: Extending the PhenotypeReport as inadecuate

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Multiple system atrophy MSA is a fatal, rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease with oligodendro-glial cytoplasmic α-synuclein α-syn inclusions GCIs. Peripheral neuropathies have been reported in up to 40% of MSA patients, the cause remaining unclear. In a transgenic MSA mouse model featuring GCI-like inclusion pathology based on PLP-promoter driven overexpression of human α-syn in oligodendroglia motor and non-motor deficits are associated with MSA-like neurodegeneration. Since α-syn is also expressed in Schwann cells we aimed to investigate whether peripheral nerves are anatomically and functionally affected in the PLP-α-syn MSA mouse model.


To this end, heat-cold as well as mechanical sensitivity tests were performed. Furthermore, in vivo and ex vivo nerve conduction and the G-ratios of the sciatic nerve were analyzed, and thermosensitive ion channel mRNA expression in dorsal root ganglia DRG was assessed. The presence of human α-syn in Schwann cells was associated with subtle behavioral impairments. The G-ratio of the sciatic nerve, the conduction velocity of myelinated and unmyelinated primary afferents and the expression of thermosensitive ion channels in the sensory neurons, however, were similar to wildtype mice.


Our results suggest that the PNS appears to be affected by Schwann cell α-syn deposits in the PLP-α-syn MSA mouse model. However, there was no consistent evidence for functional PNS perturbations resulting from such α-syn aggregates suggesting a more central cause of the observed behavioral abnormalities. Nonetheless, our results do not exclude a causal role of α-syn in the pathogenesis of MSA associated peripheral neuropathy.

Author: Daniela Kuzdas-Wood, Regina Irschick, Markus Theurl, Philipp Malsch, Norbert Mair, Christine Mantinger, Julia Wanschitz, Lars Kli



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