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Glycation modulates glutamatergic signaling and exacerbates Parkinson’s disease-like phenotypes

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tiago OuteiroORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022, The Author(s). Alpha-synuclein (aSyn) is a central player in the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies due to its accumulation in typical protein aggregates in the brain. However, it is still unclear how it contributes to neurodegeneration. Type-2 diabetes mellitus is a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Interestingly, a common molecular alteration among these disorders is the age-associated increase in protein glycation. We hypothesized that glycation-induced neuronal dysfunction is a contributing factor in synucleinopathies. Here, we dissected the impact of methylglyoxal (MGO, a glycating agent) in mice overexpressing aSyn in the brain. We found that MGO-glycation potentiates motor, cognitive, olfactory, and colonic dysfunction in aSyn transgenic (Thy1-aSyn) mice that received a single dose of MGO via intracerebroventricular injection. aSyn accumulates in the midbrain, striatum, and prefrontal cortex, and protein glycation is increased in the cerebellum and midbrain. SWATH mass spectrometry analysis, used to quantify changes in the brain proteome, revealed that MGO mainly increase glutamatergic-associated proteins in the midbrain (NMDA, AMPA, glutaminase, VGLUT and EAAT1), but not in the prefrontal cortex, where it mainly affects the electron transport chain. The glycated proteins in the midbrain of MGO-injected Thy1-aSyn mice strongly correlate with PD and dopaminergic pathways. Overall, we demonstrated that MGO-induced glycation accelerates PD-like sensorimotor and cognitive alterations and suggest that the increase of glutamatergic signaling may underly these events. Our study sheds new light into the enhanced vulnerability of the midbrain in PD-related synaptic dysfunction and suggests that glycation suppressors and anti-glutamatergic drugs may hold promise as disease-modifying therapies for synucleinopathies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chegao A, Guarda M, Alexandre BM, Shvachiy L, Temido-Ferreira M, Marques-Morgado I, Fernandes Gomes B, Matthiesen R, Lopes LV, Florindo PR, Gomes RA, Gomes-Alves P, Coelho JE, Outeiro TF, Vicente Miranda H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: npj Parkinson's Disease

Year: 2022

Volume: 8

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 25/04/2022

Acceptance date: 31/03/2022

Date deposited: 12/05/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2373-8057

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41531-022-00314-x


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Funder referenceFunder name
FCT, PD/BD/136863/2018
EXC 2067/1- 390729940
SFB1286 (B8)