Synucleinopathies constitute a disease family named after alpha-synuclein protein, which is a significant component of the intracellular inclusions called Lewy bodies. Accompanying the progressive neurodegeneration, Lewy bodies and neurites are the main histopathologies of synucleinopathies. The complicated role of alpha-synuclein in the disease pathology makes it an attractive therapeutic target for disease-modifying treatments. GDNF is one of the most potent neurotrophic factors for dopamine neurons, whereas CDNF is protective and neurorestorative with entirely different mechanisms of action. Both have been in the clinical trials for the most common synucleinopathy, Parkinson's disease. With the AAV-GDNF clinical trials ongoing and the CDNF trial being finalized, their effects on abnormal alpha-synuclein accumulation are of great interest. Previous animal studies with an alpha-synuclein overexpression model have shown that GDNF was ineffective against alpha-synuclein accumulation. However, a recent study with cell culture and animal models of alpha-synuclein fibril inoculation has demonstrated the opposite by revealing that the GDNF/RET signaling cascade is required for the protective effect of GDNF on alpha-synuclein aggregation. CDNF, an ER resident protein, was shown to bind alpha-synuclein directly. CDNF reduced the uptake of alpha-synuclein fibrils by the neurons and alleviated the behavioral deficits induced by fibrils injected into the mouse brain. Thus, GDNF and CDNF can modulate different symptoms and pathologies of Parkinson's disease, and perhaps, similarly for other synucleinopathies. Their unique mechanisms for preventing alpha-synuclein-related pathology should be studied more carefully to develop disease-modifying therapies.

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