Defective glial cells linked to Parkinson’s disease


Defective variants of human glial cells known as astrocytes are linked to a build-up of a toxic protein, which is one of the hallmarks of Parkinson’s Disease. This is one of the main conclusions of a new article published in the journal Stem Cell Reports, a study conducted by a team led by Antonella Consiglio, researcher at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Barcelona, the Institute of Biomedicine of the UB (IBUB) and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), and Àngel Raya, from the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMR[B]-IDIBELL).

The studied astrocytes, derived from patients with Parkinson’s disease with a genetic mutation, created a larger build-up of the α –synuclein compared to the sample derived from healthy individuals. This new study suggests glial cells play an important role in Parkinson’s disease and proposes new potential therapeutic targets.

According to the lecturer Antonella Consiglio, head of a research group of the UB and IDIBELL, “our results change completely the previous understanding of the participation of astrocytes in Parkinson’s disease. With the new results, we go from understanding these as bystander cells playing a protector role to consider them critical players that spread the disease and enlarge the level of neuronal degeneration”.

According to the expert Angelique di Domenico, co-author and former postdoc researcher in Consiglio’s laboratory, “in the study, we found that the build-up of α –synuclein gave way to the shortening and disintegration of branches neurons protect (axons and dendrites), which caused the neuronal death even to neurons in healthy individuals”.


Universitat de Barcelona