Plant poisoning leads to alpha-synucleinopathy and neuromelanopathy in kangaroos
AuthorTayebi, M; El-Hage, CM; Pinczowski, P; Whiteley, P; David, M; Li, Q-X; Varghese, S; Mikhael, M; Habiba, U; Harman, D; ...
Source TitleScientific Reports
PublisherNATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
University of Melbourne Author/sEl-Hage, Charles; Masters, Colin; Tatarczuch, Liliana; Tayebi, Mourad; Whiteley, Pam; Varghese, Shiji; Summers, Brian; Li, Qiao-Xin; Birchall, Ian
Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsTayebi, M., El-Hage, C. M., Pinczowski, P., Whiteley, P., David, M., Li, Q. -X., Varghese, S., Mikhael, M., Habiba, U., Harman, D., Tatarczuch, L., Bogeski, M., Birchall, I., Ferguson, K., Walker, L., Masters, C. & Summers, B. A. (2019). Plant poisoning leads to alpha-synucleinopathy and neuromelanopathy in kangaroos. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 9 (1), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-53396-8.
Access StatusOpen Access
The pathogenesis of synucleinopathies, common neuropathological lesions normally associated with some human neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy, remains poorly understood. In animals, ingestion of the tryptamine-alkaloid-rich phalaris pastures plants causes a disorder called Phalaris staggers, a neurological syndrome reported in kangaroos. The aim of the study was to characterise the clinical and neuropathological changes associated with spontaneous cases of Phalaris staggers in kangaroos. Gross, histological, ultrastructural and Immunohistochemical studies were performed to demonstrate neuronal accumulation of neuromelanin and aggregated α-synuclein. ELISA and mass spectrometry were used to detect serum-borne α-synuclein and tryptamine alkaloids respectively. We report that neurons in the central and enteric nervous systems of affected kangaroos display extensive accumulation of neuromelanin in the perikaryon without affecting neuronal morphology. Ultrastructural studies confirmed the typical structure of neuromelanin. While we demonstrated strong staining of α-synuclein, restricted to neurons, intracytoplasmic Lewy bodies inclusions were not observed. α-synuclein aggregates levels were shown to be lower in sera of the affected kangaroos compared to unaffected herd mate kangaroos. Finally, mass spectrometry failed to detect the alkaloid toxins in the sera derived from the affected kangaroos. Our preliminary findings warrant further investigation of Phalaris staggers in kangaroos, potentially a valuable large animal model for environmentally-acquired toxic synucleinopathy.
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