Biochemical Increase in Phosphorylated Alpha-Synuclein Precedes Histopathology of Lewy-Type Synucleinopathies


  • Conflict of interest: All of the authors declare no conflict of interest.

Lih-Fen Lue, PhD, Laboratory of Neuroregeneration, Banner Sun Health Research Institute, 10515 West Santa Fe Drive, Sun City, AZ 85351 (E-mail: )


A key component in Lewy body (LB) pathology in LB disorders is α-synuclein phosphorylated at serine 129 (pαsyn). However, it is not known if increase in the level of biochemically measurable pαsyn precedes the presence of histologically identified Lewy-type synucleinopathy (LTS). To gain sights into possible temporal sequence, we measured levels of pαsyn in cingulate and temporal cortices that develop LTS pathology at later stages of LB disorders. Brain homogenates from 128 autopsy cases including normal controls and subjects classified by Unified LTS histopathology staging system were studied. We found that biochemically measurable pαsyn levels in cingulate and temporal cortices were significantly increased at Unified stages III and IV. When pαsyn levels were compared between LTS density scores instead of Unified stages, significant increases were detected even as LTS density scores increased from 0 to 1 in olfactory bulb and substantia nigra. Therefore, our findings demonstrated that changes of pαsyn levels in cingulate and temporal cortices coincided with the early appearance of the LTS pathology in olfactory bulb and substantia nigra, even though histologically demonstrable LTS was lacking in the cortical region. Therefore, identifying the underlying mechanisms driving these changes could be crucial to understanding the pathogenesis of LB disorders.