Article Title

The Poly-Arginine Peptide R18D Interferes with the Internalisation of a-Synuclein Pre-Formed Fibrils in STC-1 Enteroendocrine Cells


In Parkinson’s disease (PD), gut inflammation is hypothesised to contribute to α-synuclein aggregation, but gastrointestinal α-synuclein expression is poorly characterised. Cationic arginine-rich peptides (CARPs) are an emerging therapeutic option that exerts various neuroprotective effects and may target the transmission of protein aggregates. This study aimed to investigate endogenous α-synuclein expression in enteroendocrine STC-1 cells and the potential of the CARP, R18D (18-mer of D-arginine), to prevent internalisation of pre-formed α-synuclein fibrils (PFFs) in enteroendocrine cells in vitro. Through confocal microscopy, the immunoreactivity of full-length α-synuclein and the serine-129 phosphorylated form (pS129) was investigated in STC-1 (mouse enteroendocrine) cells. Thereafter, STC-1 cells were exposed to PFFs tagged with Alexa-Fluor 488 (PFF-488) for 2 and 24 h and R18D-FITC for 10 min. After confirming the uptake of both PFFs and R18D-FITC through fluorescent microscopy, STC-1 cells were pre-treated with R18D (5 or 10 μM) for 10 min prior to 2 h of PFF-488 exposure. Immunoreactivity for endogenous α-synuclein and pS129 was evident in STC-1 cells, with prominent pS129 staining along cytoplasmic processes and in perinuclear areas. STC-1 cells internalised PFFs, confirmed through co-localisation of PFF-488 and human-specific α-synuclein immunoreactivity. R18D-FITC entered STC-1 cells within 10 min and pre-treatment of STC-1 cells with R18D interfered with PFF uptake. The endogenous presence of α-synuclein in enteroendocrine cells, coupled with their rapid uptake of PFFs, demonstrates a potential for pathogenic spread of α-synuclein aggregates in the gut. R18D is a novel therapeutic approach to reduce the intercellular transmission of α-synuclein pathology.


α-synuclein; arginine; poly-arginine; R18D; enteroendocrine cells; pre-formed fibrils

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