Distinct ultrastructural phenotypes of glial and neuronal alpha-synuclein inclusions in multiple system atrophy

Carolin Böing, Marta Di Fabrizio, Domenic Burger, John G J M Bol, Evelien Huisman, Annemieke J M Rozemuller, Wilma D J van de Berg, Henning Stahlberg, Amanda J Lewis

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Multiple System Atrophy is characterized pathologically by the accumulation of alpha-synuclein (aSyn) into glial cytoplasmic inclusions (GCIs). The mechanism underlying the formation of GCIs is not well understood. In this study, correlative light and electron microscopy was employed to investigate aSyn pathology in the substantia nigra and putamen of post-mortem multiple system atrophy brain donors. Three distinct types of aSyn immuno-positive inclusions were identified in oligodendrocytes, neurons and dark cells presumed to be dark microglia. Oligodendrocytes contained fibrillar GCIs that were consistently enriched with lysosomes and peroxisomes, supporting the involvement of the autophagy pathway in aSyn aggregation in multiple system atrophy. Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions exhibited ultrastructural heterogeneity resembling both fibrillar and membranous inclusions, linking multiple systems atrophy and Parkinson's disease. The novel aSyn pathology identified in the dark cells, displayed GCI-like fibrils or non-GCI-like ultrastructures suggesting various stages of aSyn accumulation in these cells. The observation of GCI-like fibrils within dark cells suggests these cells may be an important contributor to the origin or spread of pathological aSyn in multiple system atrophy. Our results suggest a complex interplay between multiple cell types that may underlie the formation of aSyn pathology in multiple system atrophy brain and highlight the need for further investigation into cell-specific disease pathologies in multiple system atrophy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain : a journal of neurology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 May 2024

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