Simple and Complex Sugars in Parkinson's Disease: a Bittersweet Taste


Neuronal homeostasis depends on both simple and complex sugars (the glycoconjugates), and derangement of their metabolism is liable to impair neural function and lead to neurodegeneration. Glucose levels boost glycation phenomena, a wide series of non-enzymatic reactions that give rise to various intermediates and end-products that are potentially dangerous in neurons. Glycoconjugates, including glycoproteins, glycolipids, and glycosaminoglycans, contribute to the constitution of the unique features of neuron membranes and extracellular matrix in the nervous system. Glycosylation defects are indeed frequently associated with nervous system disturbances and neurodegeneration. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor and non-motor symptoms associated with the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the pars compacta of the substantia nigra. Neurons present intracytoplasmic inclusions of α-synuclein aggregates involved in the disease pathogenesis together with the impairment of the autophagy-lysosome function, oxidative stress, and defective traffic and turnover of membrane components. In the present review, we selected relevant recent contributions concerning the direct involvement of glycation and glycosylation in α-synuclein stability, impaired autophagy and lysosomal function in PD, focusing on potential models of PD pathogenesis provided by genetic variants of glycosphingolipid processing enzymes, especially glucocerebrosidase (GBA). Moreover, we collected data aimed at defining the glycomic profile of PD patients as a tool to help in diagnosis and patient subtyping, as well as those pointing to sugar-related compounds with potential therapeutic applications in PD.

Authors Zulueta A, Mingione A, Signorelli P, Caretti A, Ghidoni R, Trinchera M
Journal Molecular neurobiology
Publication Date 2020 Jul;57(7):2934-2943
PubMed 32430844
DOI 10.1007/s12035-020-01931-4

Research Projects

Cell Lines