Impaired intracellular trafficking defines early Parkinson's disease.
Hunn BH., Cragg SJ., Bolam JP., Spillantini MG., Wade-Martins R.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is an insidious and incurable neurodegenerative disease, and represents a significant cost to individuals, carers, and ageing societies. It is defined at post-mortem by the loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra together with the presence of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites. We examine here the role of α-synuclein and other cellular transport proteins implicated in PD and how their aberrant activity may be compounded by the unique anatomy of the dopaminergic neuron. This review uses multiple lines of evidence from genetic studies, human tissue, induced pluripotent stem cells, and refined animal models to argue that prodromal PD can be defined as a disease of impaired intracellular trafficking. Dysfunction of the dopaminergic synapse heralds trafficking impairment.