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Impaired, Proteostasis leads to Degeneration of dopaminergic neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway
Key Event Relationship Overview
AOPs Referencing Relationship
|AOP Name||Adjacency||Weight of Evidence||Quantitative Understanding||Point of Contact||Author Status||OECD Status|
|Inhibition of the mitochondrial complex I of nigro-striatal neurons leads to parkinsonian motor deficits||adjacent||High||Moderate||Andrea Terron (send email)||Open for citation & comment||WPHA/WNT Endorsed|
Life Stage Applicability
Key Event Relationship Description
One of the critical functions in the long-lived cells such as neurons is the clearing system for the removal of the unfolded proteins. This function is provided by two major systems, the Ubiquitin Proteosome System (UPS) and the Autophagy-Lysosome Pathway (ALP) (Tai HC et al. 2008; Korolchuck VI et al. 2010 and Ravikumar B et al. 2010). Impaired proteostasis with formation of misfolded α-synuclein aggregates deregulates microtubule assembly and stability with reduction in axonal transport and impairment of mithocondrial trafficking and energy supply (Esposito et al. 2007; Chen et al. 2007; Borland et al. 2008; O’Malley 2010; Fujita et al. 2014; Weihofen et al. 2009).
Pathological consequences of these deregulated process include interference with the function of synapses, formation of toxic aggregates of proteins, impaired energy metabolism and turnover of mitochondria and chronic endoplasmic reticulum stress; all eventually leading to degeneration of DA neurons in the nigrostriatal pathway (Fujita et al. 2010, Shulman et al. 2011, Dauer et al. 2003, Orimo et al.2008, Raff et al. 2005; Schwarz 2015).
Evidence Collection Strategy
Evidence Supporting this KER
The weight of evidence for the relationship between impaired proteostasis and degeneration of dopaminergic neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway is strong. The biological plausibility is based on the knowledge of the physiological cellular process governing the cleaning processes of degradated proteins and organells and on the observations done in genetic and idiopathic forms of Parkinson's disease. Dose and time concordance support a strong response-respose relationships which is also supported by the very well known chronic and progressive behviour of the Parkinson's disease. Although essentiality has been demonstrated in multiple models and lines of evidence, including knockout animals, a single molecular chain of events cannot be established; therefore essentiality for this KEs relationship was considered moderate.
The fact that impaired proteostasis can induce degeneration of DA neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway is well known and based on the understanding of the physiological cellular processes involved in removing degraded/misfolded proteins as they are critical for normal mitochondria and axonal transport. Accumulation of misfolded and/or aggregated α-synuclein and the presence of abnormal mitochondria is a consequence of deregulation of this clearing process, and the Lewy bodies, a pathological hallmark of sporadic PD, stain specifically for proteins associated with UPS (Fornai et al., 2003; Gai et al., 2000; McNaught et al., 2002).
Impaired proteostasis has been described in humans affected by sporadic PD (McNaught et al.; 2001, 2003), and changes induced by excess cellular levels of degraded proteins in nigral dopaminergic neurons cause a progressive decline in lysosome function, i.e. ALP system, contributing to neurodegeneration (Decressac et al. 2013). In this context, the ALP system is likely working in a complementary way, with the UPS being the major cleaning system in the soma and the ALP playing a role at pre-synaptic sites (Friedman et al., 2012). Pathological observations from patients affected by PD and from animal models show an increased number of autophagic vacuoles or autophagic markers (Alvarez-Erviti et al., 2010; Crews et al. 2010). Additional observations support the role of impaired proteostasis in nigrostriatal toxicity such as : several genetic variants of sporadic PD are due to susceptible genes able to participate in or modify proteostasis (Shulman et al. 201, Fornai et al. 2003, Shimura et al. 2000, Leroy et al.1998) and striatal microinfusion of proteasome inhibitors induce selective nigrostriatal toxicity with loss of DA and DA metabolites (DA, DOPAC and HVA) in the striatum, retrograde loss of nigral DA cell and intracytoplasmatic inclusions positive for protein of the UPS (Fornai et al. 2003).
Transgenic overexpression of mutant or wild-type forms of α-synuclein in mice causes neuropathological changes including dystrophic neurites and α-synuclein positive LB-inclusion (Dauer et al. 2003; Masiliah et al. 2000). However, they fail to reproduce specific cell death in the nigrostriatal pathway. In contrast, injection of human α-synuclein expressing viral vectors into the SN of adult rats causes a selective death of dopaminergic neurons and formation of LB inclusions (Dauer et al. 2003; Kirik et al. 2002; Lo Bianco et al. 2002). These effects were observed with adeno-associated virus –mediated expression of A30P α-synuclein and with lentiviral-mediated expression of α-synuclein in rats, mice and non-human primates (Shulman 2010; Kirk et al.2003; Klein et al. 2002; Lo Bianco et al. 2002 and 2004; Lauwerset al. 2003).
Impaired proteostasis and formation of proteins aggregates also affect the axonal transport and mitochondrial trafficking. α-synuclein mutants accumulate in the neuronal soma when overexpressed, reducing the axonal transport (Kim-Han et al. 2011; Saha et al.2004); in addition, overexpressed vesicle-associated α-synuclein binds to the microtubules with a detrimental role on axonal transport (Kim-Han et al. 2011; Yang et al. 2010). Postmortem studies on PD patients are indicative of axonal damage. It appears that axonal changes precede neuronal loss, supporting the idea that axonal impairments are early events in neurodegenerative disorders (Orimo et al. 2005 and 2008, Raff 2002, Braak et al. 2004). These changes, and observation from animals models using the chemical stressor MPTP (Meissner et al. 2003, Serra et al. 2002, Hasbani et al. 2006) are supporting the notion that DA neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway degenerate through a “dying back” axonopathy (Raff et al. 2002). It was demonstrated that axonal degeneration follows an active process distinct from cell body loss in a Wallerian degeneration slow (WldS) mutant mouse transgenic model. In this model, axonal degeneration in a variety of disorders is inhibited. In WldS mice, acute treatment with MPTP (20 mg/kg ip for 7 days) resulted in attenuated nigrostriatal axon degeneration, and attenuated DA loss, but cell bodies were not rescued (Hasbani et al. 2006). Indeed, multiple evidences from genetic and experimental models (particularly using MPTP as a chemical stressor) support an early and critical role of axonal impairment with early occurrence of Lewy neurites preceding Lewy bodies formation and cell death (O’Malley 2010).
In addition, a strong link between mitochondrial dysfunction and PD came from the discovery that mutations in PINK1, α-synuclein, LRRK2, parkin and DJ-1, all linked with genetic causes of PD, can affect mitochondrial function (Rappold et al.2014, O’Malley 2010). Deregulation of mitochondrial dynamics (fission, fusion and movement of mitochondria) can affect neuronal activity and viability and imbalance of mitochondrial dynamics have been reported in experimental models of PD with mutated α-synuclein (Tieu, 2014) or chronic model of primary neuronal cells treated with low concentrations (0.1-1 nM) of rotenone (Arnold et al. 2011). Progression of neuronal changes with formation of Lewy neurites and reduction of mitochondrial movement leading to cell death has been also observed in-vitro in a chronic cell-based model (SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell line) treated with Rotenone (50nM for 21 days). In this assay, reduction in mitochondrial movement was associated with a progressive damage, first including formation of Lewy neurites, followed by cell death (Borland et al.2008).
Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
- MPTP can induce damage to nigrostriatal neurons without formation of Lewy bodies (hall mark of PD). Acutely intoxicated humans and primates with MPTP lack LB-like formation (Dauer et al. 2003; Forno et al. 1986, 1993). Similarly, discontinuous administration of rotenone, even at high doses, damages the basal ganglia but produce no inclusions (Heikkila et al. 1985; Ferrante et al. 1997, Lapontine 2004). To reproduce the formation of neuronal inclusions, continuous infusion of MPTP or rotenone is necessary.
- Acute intoxication with rotenone seems to spare dopaminergic neurons (Dauer et al 2003, Ferrante 1997). In addition, in rats chronically infused with rotenone showed a reduction in striatal DARPP-32-positive, cholinergic and NADPH diaphorase-positive neurons (Hoglinger et al. 2003) or in other brain regions. These results would suggest that Rotenone can induce a more widespread neurotoxicity (Aguilar et al. 2015).
- The vulnerability of the dopaminergic pathway still remains circumstantial. The selectivity of MPP+ for dopaminergic neurons is due to its selective uptake via dopamine transporter (DAT), which terminates the synaptic actions of dopamine (Javitch et al. 1985, Pifl et al. 1993, Gainetdinov et al.1997, Hirata et al. 2008). Selectivity of rotenone for dopaminergic neurons is not fully understood (Hirata 2008).
- Transgenic overexpression of α-synuclein induces neurotoxicity (ie neuronal atrophy, distrophic neuritis, astrocytosis and LB-like formation). However they fail to cause death of dopaminergic neurons. Nevertheless, injection of the human protein or mutated form expressing viral vectors into the SN, are able to induce all the pathological changes characteristic of PD. This discrepancy could be due to the higher expression of α-synuclein in the viral vector model or because in these models, α-synuclein overexpression would occur suddenly in adult animals (Dauer et al. 2003). In addition, transgenic expression of C-terminal truncated α-synuclein also leads to motor symptoms but neuronal degeneration is not reported (Halls et al. 2015).
- There is conflicting literature on whether increased autophagy would be protective or enhances damage. Similarly, a conflicting literature exists on extent of inhibition or activation of different protein degradation system in PD and a clear threshold of onset is unknown (Fornai et al. 2005).
- Several mechanisms may affect the axonal transport in neurons showing swelling of neurites positive for α-synuclein. These include e.g. ROS production, lysosome and mitochondria membranes depolarization, increased permeability and microtubule depolymerization (Kim-Ham et al.2011, Borland et al.2008, Choi et al.2008). As both MPTP and rotenone could directly trigger these effects, a clear mechanistic understanding leading to cell death is difficult to identify (Aguilar et al. 2015).
- Different features of imbalanced proteostasis can trigger one another (e.g. disturbed protein degradation, pathological protein aggregation, microtubule dysfunction); and each of them can lead to cell death. Therefore, the “single” triggering event triggering axonal degeneration or neuronal death is not known. For instance, for α-synuclein aggregation, it is not clear whether this causes death because some vital function of neurons is lost, or whether some protein increases e.g. because of inhibited chaperone-mediate autophagy (Kaushik et al. 2008, Cuervo et al. 2014).
- Real-time changes in DA axons are difficult to assess, accounting for the limitation of testing models of structural or trafficking impairment in-vivo.
Known modulating factors
Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
Domain of Applicability
Multiple animal modeles have been used to mimic PD (Johnson et al. 2015). There are no sex restriction; however, susceptibility to MPTP increases with age in both non-human primates and mice (Rose et al.1993, Irwin et al. 1993, Ovadia et al. 1995).
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