Gut Microbiome-Modified Polyphenolic Compounds Inhibit α-Synuclein Seeding and Spreading in α-Synucleinopathies

Tritia R. Yamasaki, Kenjiro Ono, Lap Ho, Giulio M. Pasinetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number398
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - May 4 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Yamasaki, Ono, Ho and Pasinetti.


  • Parkinson’s disease
  • aggregation
  • microbiome
  • multiple system atrophy
  • polyphenol
  • α-synuclein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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