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YEAR : 2021

Innovative treatment targeting gangliosides aimed at blocking the formation of neurotoxic α-synuclein oligomers in Parkinson's disease

AUTHORS : Yahi N, Di Scala C, Chahinian H, Fantini J.

JOURNAL : Glycoconjugate Journal
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a major neurodegenerative disorder which exhibits many of the characteristics of a pandemic. Current therapeutic strategies are centered on the dopaminergic system, with limited efficacy, so that a treatment that has a direct impact on the underlying disease pathogenesis is urgently needed. Although α-synuclein is a privileged target for such therapies, this protein has been in the past wrongly considered as exclusively intracellular, so that the impact of paracrine neurotoxicity mechanisms in PD have been largely ignored. In this article we review the data showing that lipid rafts act as plasma membrane machineries for the formation of α-synuclein pore-like oligomers which trigger an increase of intracellular Ca2+. This Ca2+ influx is responsible for a self-sustained cascade of neurotoxic events, including mitochondrial oxidative stress, tau phosphorylation, Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum, Lewy body formation, and extracellular release of α-synuclein in exosomes. The first step of this cascade is the binding of α-synuclein to lipid raft gangliosides, suggesting that PD should be considered as both a proteinopathy and a ganglioside membrane disorder lipidopathy. Accordingly, blocking α-synuclein-ganglioside interactions should annihilate the whole neurotoxic cascade and stop disease progression. A pipeline of anti-oligomer molecules is under development, among which an in-silico designed synthetic peptide AmyP53 which is the first drug targeting gangliosides and thus able to prevent the formation of α-synuclein oligomers and all downstream neurotoxicity. These new therapeutic avenues challenge the current symptomatic approaches by finally targeting the root cause of PD through a long-awaited paradigm shift.