Background: α-Synuclein has been directly linked to Parkinson’s disease etiology by mutations in and multiplication of its gene that result in a familial form of Parkinson’s disease. α-Synuclein has been detected in blood, and was found to be elevated in the blood of those individuals with the α-synuclein gene multiplication. Objective: A complete analysis of the level of α-synuclein in blood has not been performed. In this report, we determine the quantitative distribution of α-synuclein in the plasma and different cellular fractions of human blood. The levels of α-synuclein in human and mouse blood are compared. Methods: α-Synuclein levels in the different fractions of blood were quantified by a sandwich ELISA with purified recombinant α-synuclein as an assay standard. Samples were further characterized by Western immunoblot analysis. Results: More than 99% of the α-synuclein resides in the red blood cells (RBCs) with less than 1% of the total detected in the plasma, platelets and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Conclusions: More than 99% of the α-synuclein in human blood is present in the peripheral blood cells, with the remainder in plasma. Fractionation of peripheral blood cells from human blood and quantification of α-synuclein revealed that only a very small amount of the total α-synuclein is present in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and platelets, with the majority of α-synuclein in blood being present in RBCs. Considering the abundance and fragility of RBCs, α-synuclein levels in these other blood fractions or other bodily fluids such as cerebrospinal fluid may be artificially elevated by contamination with intact or lysed RBCs.

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