• alpha-synuclein;
  • multiple system atrophy;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • motor behavior


Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a progressive degeneration of the striatonigral, olivo-ponto-cerebellar, and autonomic systems. Glial cytoplasmic inclusions (GCIs) containing alpha-synuclein represent the hallmark of MSA and are recapitulated in mice expressing alpha-synuclein in oligodendrocytes. To assess if oligodendroglial expression of human wild-type alpha-synuclein in mice (proteolipid promoter, PLP-SYN) could be associated with age-related deficits, PLP-SYN and wild-type mice were assessed for motor function, brain morphometry, striatal levels of dopamine and metabolites, dopaminergic loss, and distribution of GCIs. PLP-SYN displayed age-related impairments on a beam-traversing task. MRI revealed a significantly smaller brain volume in PLP-SYN mice at 12 months, which further decreased at 18 months together with increased volume of ventricles and cortical atrophy. The distribution of GCIs was reminiscent of MSA with a high burden in the basal ganglia. Mild dopaminergic cell loss was associated with decreased dopamine turnover at 18 months. These data indicate that PLP-SYN mice may recapitulate some of the progressive features of MSA and deliver endpoints for the evaluation of therapeutic strategies. Synapse 68:98–106, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.