Discrepancy between distribution of alpha-synuclein oligomers and Lewy-related pathology in Parkinson’s disease

Hiroaki Sekiya, Asato Tsuji, Yuki Hashimoto, Mariko Takata, Shunsuke Koga, Katsuya Nishida, Naonobu Futamura, Michi Kawamoto, Nobuo Kohara, Dennis W. Dickson, Hisatomo Kowa, Tatsushi Toda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pathological hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease (PD) are α-synuclein (αSYN)-positive inclusions referred to as Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, collectively referred to as Lewy-related pathology (LRP). LRP is thought to propagate in an ascending manner throughout the brain as the disease progresses. LRP is visible with histologic methods and is thought to represent a later stage of the disease process, while αSYN oligomers, which are not visible with routine histologic methods, are considered earlier. There is increasing evidence to suggest that αSYN oligomers may be more toxic than visible LRP. Detecting αSYN oligomers requires special techniques, and their distribution and association with clinical features are important research objectives. In this report, we describe the distribution of αSYN oligomers in multiple cortical and subcortical regions of PD using a proximity ligation assay (PLA). We observe widespread distribution of αSYN oligomers with PLA and more restricted distribution of LRP with αSYN immunohistochemistry. The distribution of αSYN oligomers differed from LRP in that αSYN oligomer burden was significantly greater in the neocortex, while LRP was greater in vulnerable subcortical regions, including the brainstem. We also found that cognitive impairment was associated with αSYN oligomers in the hippocampus. These results suggest that αSYN oligomers may be widely distributed in PD early in the disease process and that they may contribute to cognitive impairment in PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number133
JournalActa Neuropathologica Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Alpha-synuclein
  • Lewy bodies
  • Oligomers
  • Parkinson disease
  • Pathogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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