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PD-like sleep and motor problems observed in α-synuclein mutant mice
Date:6/7/2013

Amsterdam, NL, 7 June 2013 The presence of Lewy bodies in nerve cells, formed by intracellular deposits of the protein α-synuclein, is a characteristic pathologic feature of Parkinson's Disease (PD). In the quest for an animal model of PD that mimics motor and non-motor symptoms of human PD, scientists have developed strains of mice that overexpress α-synuclein. By studying a strain of mice bred to overexpress α-synuclein via the Thy-1 promoter, scientists have found these mice develop many of the age-related progressive motor symptoms of PD and demonstrate changes in sleep and anxiety. Their results are published in the latest issue of Journal of Parkinson's Disease.

PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the United States, affecting approximately one million Americans and five million people worldwide. Its prevalence is projected to double by 2030. The most obvious symptoms are movement-related, such as involuntary shaking and muscle stiffness; non-motor symptoms, such as increases in anxiety and sleep disturbances, can appear prior to the onset of motor symptoms. Although the drug levodopa can relieve some symptoms, there is no cure intensifying the pressure to find an animal model that can help clarify the pathological processes underlying human PD and find new medications to treat the pathology and/or relieve symptoms.

Investigators at the National Institute on Aging compared wild type mice with specially bred mice that were transgenic for the A53T mutation of the human α-synuclein (SNCA) gene under the control of a human thymus cell antigen 1, theta (THY-1) promoter. As the mice aged, their motor performance on a rotarod test (which measures how long the mouse can remain on a rotating rod) became impaired and the length of their strides were significantly shorter than the wild type control mice.

The study also found that SNCA mice displayed fragmented nighttime activity pattern
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Contact: Daphne Watrin
d.watrin@iospress.nl
31-206-883-355
IOS Press
Source:Eurekalert

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