Connexin 43 hemichannels and pannexin-1 channels contribute to the α-synuclein-induced dysfunction and death of astrocytes
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Diverse studies have suggested that cytoplasmic inclusions of misfolded α-synuclein in neuronal and glial cells are main pathological features of different α-synucleinopathies, including Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. Up to now, most studies have focused on the effects of α-synuclein on neurons, whereas the possible alterations of astrocyte functions and neuron–glia crosstalk have received minor attention. Recent evidence indicates that cellular signaling mediated by hemichannels and pannexons is critical for astroglial function and dysfunction. These channels constitute a diffusional route of communication between the cytosol and the extracellular space and during pathological scenarios they may lead to homeostatic disturbances linked to the pathogenesis and progression of different diseases. Here, we found that α-synuclein enhances the opening of connexin 43 (Cx43) hemichannels and pannexin-1 (Panx1) channels in mouse cortical astrocytes. This response was linked to the activation of cytokines, the p38 MAP kinase, the inducible nitric oxide synthase, cyclooxygenase 2, intracellular free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), and purinergic and glutamatergic signaling. Relevantly, the α-synuclein-induced opening of hemichannels and pannexons resulted in alterations in [Ca2+]i dynamics, nitric oxide (NO) production, gliotransmitter release, mitochondrial morphology, and astrocyte survival. We propose that α-synuclein-mediated opening of astroglial Cx43 hemichannels and Panx1 channels might constitute a novel mechanism involved in the pathogenesis and progression of α-synucleinopathies. © 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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