Enteric synucleinopathy: real entity or only a trendy concept?
Keywords:Synucleinopathies, Tauopathies, Enteric nervous system, Aggregates, Alpha-synuclein, Parkinson’s disease
An accumulating body of literature has emerged in the past 25 years to show that Parkinson’s disease (PD) is not only a disorder of the brain but also of the gastrointestinal tract and more generally of the gut-brain axis. Gastrointestinal symptoms occur in almost every PD patient at some point and in nearly every case examined pathologically autopsy studies find alpha-synuclein deposits, the pathological hallmarks of PD, in the enteric nervous system. This concept of ‘enteric synucleinopathy’ led to the hypothesis that the enteric nervous system might play a pivotal role in the initiation and spreading of PD. Although this hypothesis opens up interesting perspectives on the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders, some important questions are still pending. The present opinion paper describes and compares the physiological and pathophysiological properties of alpha-synuclein in the brain and the enteric nervous system. We conclude that the existing data supports the existence of pathological alpha-synuclein species in the gut in PD. We also discuss if gut-brain interactions are important in other neurodegenerative disorders.
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