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Parkinson's disease, the most common age-related movement disorder, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease with unclear etiology. Key neuropathological hallmarks are Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, which are neuronal inclusions that are immunopositive for the protein alpha-synuclein. In-depth ultrastructural analysis of this Lewy pathology is crucial to understanding pathogenesis and progression of the disease. Using correlative light and electron microscopy/tomography on brain tissue from five Parkinson's disease brain donors, we identified alpha-synuclein immunopositive Lewy pathology and could show that the majority of these features including Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites primarily consists of a crowded membranous medley of vesicular structures and dysmorphic organelles. Only a small fraction of observed Lewy bodies contained predominant proteinaceous filaments, as previously described. The crowding of organellar components was confirmed by STED-based super-resolution microscopy, and high lipid content within the alpha-synuclein immunopositive inclusions was corroborated by confocal imaging, CARS/FTIR imaging and lipidomics. Applying this correlative high-resolution imaging and biophysical approach, we discovered in the postmortem brain of Parkinson's patients a subcellular protein-lipid compartmentalization not previously described in Lewy pathology.

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