Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with the progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons with abnormal accumulation of α-synuclein mainly in the ventral midbrain. However, the lack of live human neurons from PD patients and their heterogeneous pathogenic nature limit mechanistic studies and therefore the development of drugs to modify the disease progression of PD. The evolution of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology makes it possible to generate patient-specific neurons to explore the pathogenesis in individual PD patients. Methods: We generated PD-iPSCs from a sporadic early onset PD patient carrying a heterozygous deletion of exon 5 (Ex5del) in PARK2. The expression of α-synuclein and proteasome and anti-oxidative functions were examined in differentiated iPSC-derived neurons. Results: The neurons derived from our PD-iPSCs demonstrated abnormal α-synuclein accumulation and down-regulation of the proteasome and anti-oxidative pathways. Environmental triggers such as proteasome inhibitor MG132 and H2O2 markedly induced cell death, while the proteasome enhancer benzamil and anti-oxidative compound genipin significantly rescued these increased susceptibilities. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that unique genetic-environmental interactions are involved in neuronal death in PD patients. Our findings also provide a new model to identify potential disease-modifying strategies and an insight into personalized medicine for patients with PD.
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