- Primary skin fibroblasts as a model of Parkinson's disease (2012)
- Parkinson's disease is the second most frequent neurodegenerative disorder. While most cases occur sporadic mutations in a growing number of genes including Parkin (PARK2) and PINK1 (PARK6) have been associated with the disease. Different animal models and cell models like patient skin fibroblasts and recombinant cell lines can be used as model systems for Parkinson's disease. Skin fibroblasts present a system with defined mutations and the cumulative cellular damage of the patients. PINK1 and Parkin genes show relevant expression levels in human fibroblasts and since both genes participate in stress response pathways, we believe fibroblasts advantageous in order to assess, e.g. the effect of stressors. Furthermore, since a bioenergetic deficit underlies early stage Parkinson's disease, while atrophy underlies later stages, the use of primary cells seems preferable over the use of tumor cell lines. The new option to use fibroblast-derived induced pluripotent stem cells redifferentiated into dopaminergic neurons is an additional benefit. However, the use of fibroblast has also some drawbacks. We have investigated PARK6 fibroblasts and they mirror closely the respiratory alterations, the expression profiles, the mitochondrial dynamics pathology and the vulnerability to proteasomal stress that has been documented in other model systems. Fibroblasts from patients with PARK2, PARK6, idiopathic Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 demonstrated a distinct and unique mRNA expression pattern of key genes in neurodegeneration. Thus, primary skin fibroblasts are a useful Parkinson's disease model, able to serve as a complement to animal mutants, transformed cell lines and patient tissues.
- Parkinson phenotype in aged PINK1-deficient mice is accompanied by progressive mitochondrial dysfunction in absence of neurodegeneration (2009)
- Background Parkinson's disease (PD) is an adult-onset movement disorder of largely unknown etiology. We have previously shown that loss-of-function mutations of the mitochondrial protein kinase PINK1 (PTEN induced putative kinase 1) cause the recessive PARK6 variant of PD. Methodology/Principal Findings Now we generated a PINK1 deficient mouse and observed several novel phenotypes: A progressive reduction of weight and of locomotor activity selectively for spontaneous movements occurred at old age. As in PD, abnormal dopamine levels in the aged nigrostriatal projection accompanied the reduced movements. Possibly in line with the PARK6 syndrome but in contrast to sporadic PD, a reduced lifespan, dysfunction of brainstem and sympathetic nerves, visible aggregates of alpha-synuclein within Lewy bodies or nigrostriatal neurodegeneration were not present in aged PINK1-deficient mice. However, we demonstrate PINK1 mutant mice to exhibit a progressive reduction in mitochondrial preprotein import correlating with defects of core mitochondrial functions like ATP-generation and respiration. In contrast to the strong effect of PINK1 on mitochondrial dynamics in Drosophila melanogaster and in spite of reduced expression of fission factor Mtp18, we show reduced fission and increased aggregation of mitochondria only under stress in PINK1-deficient mouse neurons. Conclusion Thus, aging Pink1 -/- mice show increasing mitochondrial dysfunction resulting in impaired neural activity similar to PD, in absence of overt neuronal death.