Progressive neuronal death in monoaminergic nuclei and widespread accumulation of α-synuclein are neuropathological hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Given that α-synuclein may be an early mediator of the pathological cascade that ultimately leads to neurodegeneration, decreased α-synuclein synthesis will abate neurotoxicity if delivered to the key affected neurons.
We used a non-viral gene therapy based on a new indatraline-conjugated antisense oligonucleotide (IND-ASO) to disrupt the α-synuclein mRNA transcription selectively in monoamine neurons of a PD-like mouse model and elderly nonhuman primates. Molecular, cell biology, histological, neurochemical and behavioral assays were performed.
Intracerebroventricular and intranasal IND-ASO administration for four weeks in a mouse model with AAV-mediated wild-type human α-synuclein overexpression in dopamine neurons prevented the synthesis and accumulation of α-synuclein in the connected brain regions, improving dopamine neurotransmission. Likewise, the four-week IND-ASO treatment led to decreased levels of endogenous α-synuclein protein in the midbrain monoamine nuclei of nonhuman primates, which are affected early in PD.
The inhibition of α-synuclein production in dopamine neurons and its accumulation in cortical/striatal projection areas may alleviate the early deficits of dopamine function, showing the high translational value of antisense oligonucleotides as a disease modifying therapy for PD and related synucleinopathies.
Grants SAF2016-75797-R, RTC-2014-2812-1 and RTC-2015-3309-1, Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), UE; Grant ID 9238, Michael J. Fox Foundation; and Centres for Networked Biomedical Research on Mental Health (CIBERSAM), and on Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIBERNED).

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