The Lewy Body in Parkinson’s Disease and Related Neurodegenerative Disorders
The histopathological hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the presence of fibrillar aggregates referred to as Lewy bodies (LBs), in which α-synuclein is a major constituent. Pale bodies, the precursors of LBs, may serve the material for that LBs continue to expand. LBs consist of a heterogeneous mixture of more than 90 molecules, including PD-linked gene products (α-synuclein, DJ-1, LRRK2, parkin, and PINK-1), mitochondria-related proteins, and molecules implicated in the ubiquitin–proteasome system, autophagy, and aggresome formation. LB formation has been considered to be a marker for neuronal degeneration because neuronal loss is found in the predilection sites for LBs. However, recent studies have indicated that nonfibrillar α-synuclein is cytotoxic and that fibrillar aggregates of α-synuclein (LBs and pale bodies) may represent a cytoprotective mechanism in PD.