Assays for neuronal defects caused by early formation of α-synuclein inclusions in primary cultured neurons

Academic Article


  • Parkinson’s disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) are characterized by intracellular inclusions composed mostly of α-synuclein (Baba et al., Am J Pathol 152:879–884, 1998). How inclusion formation impacts neuronal function prior to death is key to understanding disease progression and identifying therapeutic windows. In the α-synuclein fibril model, exposure of primary neurons to α-synuclein fibrils induces endogenously expressed α-synuclein to form inclusions which closely resembles pathologic mechanisms in humans with PD and DLB (Volpicelli-Daley et al., Neuron 72, 57–71, 2011). In this model, at 7 days after exposure of neurons to fibrils, when there is no neuron death, inclusions in the axon selectively impair axonal transport of endosomes carrying the TrkB receptor and LC3-positive autophagosomes (Volpicelli-Daley et al., Mol Biol Cell 25:4010–4023, 2014). In addition, the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous Ca2+ transients are reduced in neurons 7 days after fibril exposure. Here we discuss protocols for plating primary hippocampal neurons, generating fibrils and measuring axonal transport and Ca2+ transients. These assays provide additional assays of neurotoxicity allowing researchers to determine if a therapeutic intervention can prevent neuronal defects before intractable neurodegeneration.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 22147379
  • Author List

  • Volpicelli-Daley LA
  • Start Page

  • 1
  • End Page

  • 14
  • Volume

  • 1948