ACS Chem Neurosci. 2022 Dec 1. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.2c00478. Online ahead of print.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second-most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder in the U.S. α-Synuclein (α-Syn) preformed fibrils (PFFs) have been shown to propagate PD pathology in neuronal populations. However, little work has directly characterized the morphological changes on membranes associated with α-Syn PFFs at a cellular level. Scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM) is a noninvasive in situ cell imaging technique and therefore uniquely advantageous to investigate PFF-induced membrane changes in neuroblastoma cells. The present work used SICM to monitor cytoplasmic membrane changes of SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells after incubation with varying concentrations of α-Syn PFFs. Cell membrane roughness significantly increased as the concentration of α-Syn PFFs increased. Noticeable protrusions that assumed a more crystalline appearance at higher α-Syn PFF concentrations were also observed. Cell viability was only slightly reduced, though statistically significantly, to about 80% but independent of the dose. These observations indicate that within the 48 h treatment period, PFFs continue to accumulate on the cell membranes, leading to membrane roughness increase without causing prominent cell death. Since PFFs did not induce major cell death, these data suggest that early interventions targeting fibrils before further aggregation may prevent the progression of neuron loss in Parkinson’s disease.