A new MAP-Rasagiline conjugate reduces α-synuclein inclusion formation in a cell model

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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease of the elderly. Current therapies are only symptomatic, and have no disease-modifying effect. Therefore, disease progresses continuously over time, presenting with both motor and non-motor features. The precise molecular basis for PD is still elusive, but the aggregation of the protein alpha-synuclein (α-syn) is a key pathological hallmark of the disease and is, therefore, a major focus of current research. Considering the intrinsic properties of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) for mediating drug delivery of neurotherapeutics across the blood brain barrier (BBB), these might open novel opportunities for the development of new solutions for the treatment of brain-related aspects of PD and other neurodegenerative disorders.


Here, we synthesized solid-phase CPPs using an amphipathic model peptide (MAP) conjugated with the drug Rasagiline (RAS), which we named RAS-MAP, and evaluated its effect on α-syn inclusion formation in a human cell-based model of synucleinopathy.


We found that treatment with RAS-MAP at low concentrations (1–3 µM) reduced α-syn aggregation in cells.


For the first time, we report that conjugation of a current drug used in the therapy of PD with CPP reduces α-syn aggregation, which might prove beneficial in PD and other synucleinopathies.

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Fig. 1
Scheme 1
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Fig. 3





Blood brain barrier


Central nervous system


Cell-penetrating peptide






High-pressure liquid chromatography


Monoamide oxidase B


Amphipathic model peptide


Non-motor symptoms


Parkinson’s disease




Reverse-phase medium-pressure liquid chromatography


Standard deviation


TVP-1012 in early monotherapy for PD outpatients


Attenuation of disease progression with Azilect given once—daily


Parkinson’s Rasagiline: efficacy and safety in the treatment of “Off”


Lasting effect in adjunct therapy with Rasagiline given once—daily


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This work was financed by FEDER—Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional funds through the COMPETE 2020—Operacional Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation (POCI), Portugal 2020, and by Portuguese funds through FCT, in the framework of the project “Institute for Research and Innovation in Health Sciences” (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007274), and through project IF/00092/2014/CP1255/CT0004. SS thanks her PhD Grant (PD/BD/135456/2017) from FCT. NV thanks FCT by IF position, Fundação Manuel António da Mota (FMAM, Portugal) and Pfizer Portugal by support Nuno Vale Lab. NV and PG thank Dr. Marco Colombo, from Dipharma, for the supply of Rasagiline used in the first phase of the work. The contents of this report are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the FCT, FMAM or Pfizer Portugal. TFO was supported by the DFG Center for Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain (CNMPB).


This work has been financed by the Portuguese founds from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), through of Grant Number IF/00092/2014/CP1255/CT0004.

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Correspondence to Nuno Vale.

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Vale, N., Alves, C., Sharma, V. et al. A new MAP-Rasagiline conjugate reduces α-synuclein inclusion formation in a cell model. Pharmacol. Rep (2020) doi:10.1007/s43440-019-00032-x

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  • Alpha-synuclein
  • Cell-penetrating peptides
  • Lewy bodies
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Rasagiline