Science Signaling Podcast: 12 May 2015

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Sci. Signal.  12 May 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 376, pp. pc12
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aac4242

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This Podcast features an interview with Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss, Stefano Daniele, and Hang Yin, authors of a Research Article that appears in the 12 May 2015 issue of Science Signaling, about how α-synuclein oligomers stimulate neuroinflammation that may contribute to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease and how drugs might be used to prevent this. Lewy bodies are protein aggregates that form in neurons and are associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia. One of the major components of Lewy bodies is midfolded α-synuclein, a protein that is normally abundant in the brain and thought to play a role in synaptic transmission. When α-synuclein does not fold properly, it forms filaments that aggregate in Lewy bodies and in neurites or are released from the cell. In addition to being toxic to neurons, these α-synuclein oligomers stimulate inflammation in the brain, which is thought to exacerbate disease. Daniele et al. discovered how α-synuclein aggregates activate microglia, which are specialized cells that provide immune defense for the brain, to stimulate neuroinflammation. They also identified drugs that can prevent microglial activation and inflammation in response to α-synuclein aggregates.

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