Ginkgolic acid promotes autophagy-dependent clearance of intracellular alpha-synuclein aggregates

Shamini Vijayakumaran, Yasuko Nakamura, Jeremy M. Henley, Dean L. Pountney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


The accumulation of intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Lewy bodies) composed of aggregates of the alpha-synuclein (α-syn) protein is the principal pathological characteristic of Parkinson's disease (PD) and may lead to degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. To date there is no medication that can promote the efficient clearance of these pathological aggregates. In this study, the effect on α-syn aggregate clearance of ginkgolic acid (GA), a natural compound extracted from Ginkgo biloba leaves that inhibits SUMOylation amongst other pathways, was assessed in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells and rat primary cortical neurons. Depolarization of SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells and rat primary cortical neurons with KCl was used to induce α-syn aggregate formation. Cells pre-treated with either GA or the related compound, anacardic acid, revealed a significant decrease in intracytoplasmic aggregates immunopositive for α-syn and SUMO-1. An increased frequency of autophagosomes was also detected with both compounds. GA post-treatment 24 h after depolarization also significantly diminished α-syn aggregate bearing cells, indicating the clearance of pre-formed aggregates. Autophagy inhibitors blocked GA-dependent clearance of α-syn aggregates, but not increased autophagosome frequency. Western analysis revealed that the reduction in α-syn aggregate frequency obtained with GA pre-treatment was accompanied by little change in the abundance of SUMO conjugates. The current findings show that GA can promote autophagy-dependent clearance of α-syn aggregates and may have potential in disease modifying therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103416
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Early online date22 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Parkinson's disease
  • Ginkgolic acid
  • SUMO
  • Autophagy
  • Alpha-synuclein


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