Fasudil Promotes α-Synuclein Clearance in an AAV-Mediated α-Synuclein Rat Model of Parkinson's Disease by Autophagy Activation

Yu-Jie Yang, Lu-Lu Bu, Cong Shen, Jing-Jie Ge, Shu-Jin He, Hui-Ling Yu, Yi-Lin Tang, Zhao Jue, Yi-Min Sun, Wen-Bo Yu, Chuan-Tao Zuo, Jian-Jun Wu, Jian Wang, Feng-Tao Liu
Journal of Parkinson's Disease 2020 June 15

BACKGROUND: Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, but the disease-modifying therapies focusing on the core pathological changes are still unavailable. Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) has been suggested as a promising target for developing neuro-protective therapies in PD.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to explore the promotion of α-synuclein (α-syn) clearance in a rat model.

METHODS: In a rat model induced by unilateral injection of adeno-associated virus of serotype 9 (AAV9) expressing A53T α-syn (AAV9-A53T-α-syn) into the right substantia nigra, we aimed to investigate whether Fasudil could promote α-syn clearance and thereby attenuate motor impairments and dopaminergic deficits.

RESULTS: In our study, treatment with Fasudil (5 mg/kg rat weight/day) for 8 weeks significantly improved the motor deficits in the Cylinder and Rotarod tests. In the in vivo positron emission tomography imaging with the ligand 18F-dihydrotetrabenazine, Fasudil significantly enhanced the dopaminergic imaging in the injected striatum of the rat model (p < 0.05 vs. vehicle group, p < 0.01 vs. left striatum in Fasudil group). The following mechanistic study confirmed that Fasudil could promote the autophagic clearance of α-Syn by Becline 1 and Akt/mTOR pathways.

CONCLUSION: Our study suggested that Fasudil, the ROCK2 inhibitor, could attenuate the anatomical and behavioral lesions in the Parkinsonian rat model by autophagy activation. Our results identify Fasudil as a drug with high translational potential as disease-modifying treatment for PD and other synucleinopathies.

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