Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Polyphenolic compounds are novel protective agents against lipid membrane damage by α-synuclein aggregates in vitro

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 May 23;1818(11):2502-2510. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Caruana M
Neuner J
Högen T
Schmid F
Kamp F
Scerri C
Giese A
Vassallo N
Publication Date: 2012
Type of Publication: Journal Article


Cumulative evidence now suggests that the abnormal aggregation of the protein α-synuclein (αS) is a critical factor in triggering neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD). In particular, a fundamental pathogenetic mechanism appears to involve targeting of neuronal membranes by soluble oligomeric intermediates of αS, leading to their disruption or permeabilisation. Therefore, a model assay was developed in which fluorophore-loaded unilamellar vesicles were permeabilised by soluble oligomers, the latter formed by aggregation of human recombinant αS protein. The αS oligomers induced an impairment of membrane integrity similar to that of the pore-forming bacterial peptide gramicidin. The lipid vesicle permeabilisation assay was then utilised to screen 11 natural polyphenolic compounds, 8 synthetic N'-benzylidene-benzohydrazide compounds and black tea extract for protection against membrane damage by wild-type and mutant (A30P, A53T) synuclein aggregates. A select group of potent inhibitory compounds included apigenin, baicalein, morin, nordihydroguaiaretic acid, and black tea extract. Structure-activity analysis further suggests that a 5,7-dihydroxy-chromen-4-one moiety appears to be favourable for the inhibition reaction. In conclusion, we have identified a group of polyphenols that can effectively hinder membrane damage by αS aggregates. These may serve as a viable source of lead compounds for the development and design of novel therapeutic agents in PD.

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