Alpha synuclein (α-synuclein) is a neuronal protein found predominately in presynaptic terminals. While the pathological effect of α-synuclein aggregates has been a topic of intense study in several neurodegenerative conditions, less attention has been placed on changes in monomeric α-synuclein and related physiological consequences on neuronal function. A growing body of evidence supports an important physiological role of α-synuclein in neurotransmission. In the context of traumatic brain injury (TBI), we hypothesized that the regional abundance of soluble monomeric α-synuclein is altered over a chronic time period post-injury. To this end, we evaluated α-synuclein in the cortex, hippocampus, and striatum of adult rats at 6 h, 1 day, 1, 2, 4, and 8 weeks after controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury. Western blot analysis demonstrated decreased levels of monomer α-synuclein protein in the ipsilateral hippocampus at 6 h, 1 day, 1, 2, and 8 weeks, as well as in the ipsilateral cortex at 1 and 2 weeks and in the ipsilateral striatum at 6 h after CCI compared with sham animals. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed lower α-synuclein and a modest reduction in synaptophysin staining in the ipsilateral hippocampus at 1 week after CCI compared with sham animals, with no evidence of intracellular or extracellular α-synuclein aggregates. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that monomeric α-synuclein protein abundance in the hippocampus is reduced over an extensive (acute-to-chronic) post-injury interval. This deficit may contribute to the chronically impaired neurotransmission known to occur after TBI.

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PubMed