The role of Galectin-3 in α-synuclein-induced microglial activation

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Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most prevalent neurodegenerative motor disorder. The neuropathology is characterized by intraneuronal protein aggregates of α-synuclein and progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra. Previous studies have shown that extracellular α-synuclein aggregates can activate microglial cells, induce inflammation and contribute to the neurodegenerative process in PD. However, the signaling pathways involved in α-synuclein-mediated microglia activation are poorly understood. Galectin-3 is a member of a carbohydrate-binding protein family involved in cell activation and inflammation. Therefore, we investigated whether galectin-3 is involved in the microglia activation triggered by α-synuclein. Results: We cultured microglial (BV2) cells and induced cell activation by addition of exogenous α-synuclein monomers or aggregates to the cell culture medium. This treatment induced a significant increase in the levels of proinflammatory mediators including the inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase (iNOS), interleukin 1 Beta (IL-1β) and Interleukin-12 (IL-12). We then reduced the levels of galectin-3 expression using siRNA or pharmacologically targeting galectin-3 activity using bis-(3-deoxy-3-(3-fluorophenyl-1H-1,2,3-triazol-1-yl)-β-D-galactopyranosyl)-sulfane. Both approaches led to a significant reduction in the observed inflammatory response induced by α-synuclein. We confirmed these findings using primary microglial cells obtained from wild-type and galectin-3 null mutant mice. Finally, we performed injections of α-synuclein in the olfactory bulb of wild type mice and observed that some of the α-synuclein was taken up by activated microglia that were immunopositive for galectin-3. Conclusions: We show that α-synuclein aggregates induce microglial activation and demonstrate for the first time that galectin-3 plays a significant role in microglia activation induced by α-synuclein. These results suggest that genetic down-regulation or pharmacological inhibition of galectin-3 might constitute a novel therapeutic target in PD and other synucleinopathies.




Boza-Serrano, A., Reyes, J. F., Rey, N. L., Leffler, H., Bousset, L., Nilsson, U., … Deierborg, T. (2014, January 27). The role of Galectin-3 in α-synuclein-induced microglial activation. Acta Neuropathologica Communications. BioMed Central Ltd.

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