Several mutations that cause Parkinson’s disease (PD) have been identified over the past decade. These account for 15–25% of PD cases; the rest of the cases are considered sporadic. Currently, it is accepted that PD is not a single monolithic disease but rather a constellation of diseases with some common phenotypes. While rodent models exist for some of the PD-causing mutations, research on the sporadic forms of PD is lagging due to a lack of cellular models. In our study, we differentiated PD patient-derived dopaminergic (DA) neurons from the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) of several PD-causing mutations as well as from sporadic PD patients. Strikingly, we observed a common neurophysiological phenotype: neurons derived from PD patients had a severe reduction in the rate of synaptic currents compared to those derived from healthy controls. While the relationship between mutations in genes such as the SNCA and LRRK2 and a reduction in synaptic transmission has been investigated before, here we show evidence that the pathogenesis of the synapses in neurons is a general phenotype in PD. Analysis of RNA sequencing results displayed changes in gene expression in different synaptic mechanisms as well as other affected pathways such as extracellular matrix-related pathways. Some of these dysregulated pathways are common to all PD patients (monogenic or idiopathic). Our data, therefore, show changes that are central and convergent to PD and suggest a strong involvement of the tetra-partite synapse in PD pathophysiology.
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