Deficiency of ganglioside GM1 correlates with Parkinson's disease in mice and humans

Gusheng Wu, Zi Hua Lu, Neil Kulkarni, Robert W. Ledeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Several studies have successfully employed GM1 ganglioside to treat animal models of Parkinson's disease (PD), suggesting involvement of this ganglioside in PD etiology. We recently demonstrated that genetically engineered mice (B4galnt1-/-) devoid of GM1 acquire characteristic symptoms of this disorder, including motor impairment, depletion of striatal dopamine, selective loss of tyrosine hydroxylase-expressing neurons, and aggregation of α-synuclein. The present study demonstrates similar symptoms in heterozygous mice (HTs) that express only partial GM1 deficiency. Symptoms were alleviated by administration of L-dopa or LIGA-20, a membrane-permeable analog of GM1 that penetrates the blood-brain barrier and accesses intracellular compartments. Immunohistochemical analysis of paraffin sections from PD patients revealed significant GM1 deficiency in nigral dopaminergic neurons compared with age-matched controls. This was comparable to the GM1 deficiency of HT mice and suggests that GM1 deficiency may be a contributing factor to idiopathic PD. We propose that HT mice with partial GM1 deficiency constitute an especially useful model for PD, reflecting the actual pathophysiology of this disorder. The results point to membrane-permeable analogs of GM1 as holding promise as a form of GM1 replacement therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1997-2008
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


  • GM1 deficiency
  • GM1 ganglioside
  • Heterozygous model
  • LIGA-20
  • Parkinson's disease


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