Misfolding, aggregation and deposition of α-synuclein (α-syn) are major pathologic characteristics of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and the related synucleinopathy, multiple system atrophy (MSA). The spread of α-syn pathology across brain regions is thought to play a key role in the onset and progression of clinical phenotypes. Thus, there is increasing interest in developing strategies that target and attenuate α-syn aggregation and spread. Recent studies of brain-penetrating polyphenolic acids, namely, 3-hydroxybenzoic acid (3-HBA), 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid (3,4-diHBA), and 3-(3-hydroxyphenyl)propionic acid (3-HPPA) that are derived from gut microbiota metabolism of dietary polyphenols, show in vitro ability to effectively modulate α-syn misfolding, oligomerization, and mediate aggregated α-syn neurotoxicity. Here we investigate whether 3-HBA, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (4-HBA), 3,4-diHBA, or 3-HPPA interfere with α-syn spreading in a cell-based system. Using HEK293 cells overexpressing α-syn-A53T-CFP/YFP, we assessed α-syn seeding activity using Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) to detect and quantify α-syn aggregation. We demonstrated that 3-HPPA, 3,4-diHBA, 3-HBA, and 4-HBA significantly attenuated intracellular α-syn seeding aggregation. To determine whether our compounds could inhibit brain-derived seeding activity, we utilized insoluble α-syn extracted from post-mortem MSA or PD brain specimens. We found that 3-HPPA effectively attenuated MSA-induced aggregation of monomer into high molecular weight aggregates capable of inducing intracellular aggregation. Outcomes from our studies suggest interactions between gut microbiome and certain dietary factors may form the basis for effective therapies that modulate pathologic α-syn propagation. Collectively, our findings provide the basis for future developments of probiotic, prebiotic, or synbiotic approaches for modulating the onset and/or progression of α-synucleinopathies.

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Published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, v. 14, 398.

© 2020 Yamasaki, Ono, Ho and Pasinetti.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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This study was supported by the Movement Disorder Bank at Washington University in St. Louis (NIH grant NS075321), American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA), Greater St. Louis Chapter of the APDA, and the Barnes Jewish Hospital Foundation (Elliot Stein Family Fund). This study was also supported in part by the NIH-NCCIH and the ODS to GP. GP holds a Senior VA Career Scientist Award. TY was supported in part by a grant from the NCATS CCTS KL2 TR000116 at University of Kentucky.

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The datasets generated for this study are available on request to the corresponding author.

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