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See detailSingle-cell sequencing of human midbrain reveals glial activation and a Parkinson-specific neuronal state.
Smajic, Semra UL; Prada-Medina, Cesar A.; Landoulsi, Zied UL et al

in Brain : a journal of neurology (2022), 145(3), 964-978

Idiopathic Parkinson's disease is characterized by a progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons, but the exact disease etiology remains largely unknown. To date, Parkinson's disease research has mainly ... [more ▼]

Idiopathic Parkinson's disease is characterized by a progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons, but the exact disease etiology remains largely unknown. To date, Parkinson's disease research has mainly focused on nigral dopaminergic neurons, although recent studies suggest disease-related changes also in non-neuronal cells and in midbrain regions beyond the substantia nigra. While there is some evidence for glial involvement in Parkinson's disease, the molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. The aim of this study was to characterize the contribution of all cell types of the midbrain to Parkinson's disease pathology by single-nuclei RNA sequencing and to assess the cell type-specific risk for Parkinson's disease employing the latest genome-wide association study. We profiled >41 000 single-nuclei transcriptomes of postmortem midbrain from six idiopathic Parkinson's disease patients and five age-/sex-matched controls. To validate our findings in a spatial context, we utilized immunolabeling of the same tissues. Moreover, we analyzed Parkinson's disease-associated risk enrichment in genes with cell type-specific expression patterns. We discovered a neuronal cell cluster characterized by CADPS2 overexpression and low TH levels, which was exclusively present in IPD midbrains. Validation analyses in laser-microdissected neurons suggest that this cluster represents dysfunctional dopaminergic neurons. With regard to glial cells, we observed an increase in nigral microglia in Parkinson's disease patients. Moreover, nigral idiopathic Parkinson's disease microglia were more amoeboid, indicating an activated state. We also discovered a reduction in idiopathic Parkinson's disease oligodendrocyte numbers with the remaining cells being characterized by a stress-induced upregulation of S100B. Parkinson's disease risk variants were associated with glia- and neuron-specific gene expression patterns in idiopathic Parkinson's disease cases. Furthermore, astrocytes and microglia presented idiopathic Parkinson's disease-specific cell proliferation and dysregulation of genes related to unfolded protein response and cytokine signaling. While reactive patient astrocytes showed CD44 overexpression, idiopathic Parkinson's disease-microglia revealed a pro-inflammatory trajectory characterized by elevated levels of IL1B, GPNMB, and HSP90AA1. Taken together, we generated the first single-nuclei RNA sequencing dataset from the idiopathic Parkinson's disease midbrain, which highlights a disease-specific neuronal cell cluster as well as 'pan-glial' activation as a central mechanism in the pathology of the movement disorder. This finding warrants further research into inflammatory signaling and immunomodulatory treatments in Parkinson's disease. [less ▲]

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