Biochem Soc Trans 2010 Apr;38(2):443-4
Department of Molecular Neurobiology, Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine, Hermann-Rein-Strasse 3, 37077 Göttingen Germany.
Synaptopathy is an increasingly popular term used to define key features of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disease. It implies that disruptions in synaptic structure and function are potentially the major determinant of such brain diseases. The Synaptopathies: Dysfunction of Synaptic Function Biochemical Society Focused Meeting brought together several invited speakers, supplemented with short communications from young scientists, who addressed this possibility. The talks spanned the full gamut of approaches that brought molecular, cellular, systems and whole-animal experimentation together to address how fundamental synaptic biology was increasingly informing on dysfunction in disease. The disease and models thereof discussed included Alzheimer's disease, prions, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and autism. The audience were asked to reflect on whether synaptopathy, although attractive and conceptually useful, provided a significant explanation as the cause of these major diseases. The breadth of the meeting reinforced the complexity of these brain diseases, supported the significance of synaptic dysfunction in disease, but left open the issue as to whether the prime cause of these disorders could be resolved as simple synaptic dysfunction. Thus, despite revealing a value of synaptopathy, further investigation will be required to reveal its balance in the cause and effect in each of the major brain diseases.