Plenary Lectures

Analía Bortolozzi

Dr. Analía Bortolozzi

Group Leader Systems Neuropharmacology,
Title: “Emotional brain circuit mapping in Parkinson’s disease

Depression and anxiety are common in people with Parkinson's disease (PD), affecting women more than men. Addressing these non-motor symptoms has not been the focus of PD research, although psychiatric symptoms can be as distressing to patients and families as the motor aspects of the disease. Pathologically, PD is characterised by the loss of dopamine (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta and the presence of intracellular inclusions called Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, composed mainly of α-synuclein (α-Syn). Abundant Lewy pathology is also found in other brain regions, including the raphe nuclei of the midbrain, which may contribute to non-motor symptoms. Indeed, dysfunction of the serotonergic (5-HT) system, which regulates mood and emotional pathways, occurs during the premotor phase of PD. However, little is known about the functional consequences of α-Syn inclusions in this neuronal population, apart from DA neurons. In this talk, I will discuss the role of α-Syn in the regulation of 5-HT function in health and disease. Understanding the relative contributions to α-Syn-related changes in the 5-HT system may provide
a basis for identifying Parkinson’s patients at risk of developing depression and may lead to a more targeted therapeutic approach.