α-Synuclein-immunoreactive structure formation is enhanced in sympathetic ganglia of patients with multiple system atrophy
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We immunohistochemically examined the sympathetic ganglia (SG) and brains of 26 patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA), 19 age-matched controls, and 25 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). α-Synuclein-immunoreactive structures were found in the neuronal cytoplasm and processes of the SG in 11 of the 26 MSA cases (42.3%) and 1 of the 25 ALS cases (4%), but not in the 19 controls. No α-synuclein-immunoreactive structures were found in Schwann cells or the neuronal nucleus. Mean disease duration of MSA cases with α-synuclein-immunoreactive structures was significantly longer than that of MSA cases without α-synuclein-immunoreactive structures. α-Synuclein-immunoreactive structures in 4 cases proved to be Lewy bodies (LB) based on hematoxylin-eosin staining. A few LB were also found in the brains of 3 of these 4 cases. In the other 7 MSA cases, diffuse or focal neuronal cytoplasmic aggregates and swollen neurites were detected with α-synuclein immunostaining, but not with hematoxylin-eosin staining. However, a few LB-like structures with ring-like staining were observed in those aggregates, which suggested those aggregates had progressed to form LB. Immunoelectron microscopically, those aggregates were composed of filaments and granular materials which closely resembled the ultrastructural features of LB. We inferred that α-synuclein aggregates found in the SG in our study evidenced LB-related pathologies. MSA, a type of synucleinopathy, is characterized by glial cytoplasmic inclusions in oligodendrocytes, but also frequently develops LB pathology in the late stage, especially in the SG.