Abstract

α-Synuclein (α-Syn) is a small, soluble, disordered protein that is widely expressed in the nervous system. Although its physiological functions are not yet fully understood, it is mainly involved in synaptic vesicle transport, neurotransmitter synthesis and release, cell membrane homeostasis, lipid synthesis, mitochondrial and lysosomal activities, and heavy metal removal. The complex and inconsistent pathological manifestations of α-Syn are attributed to its structural instability, mutational complexity, misfolding, and diverse posttranslational modifications. These effects trigger mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and neuroinflammatory responses, resulting in neuronal death and neurodegeneration. Several recent studies have discovered the pathogenic roles of α-Syn in traumatic and vascular central nervous system diseases, such as traumatic spinal cord injury, brain injury, and stroke, and in aggravating the processes of neurodegeneration. This review aims to highlight the structural and pathophysiological changes in α-Syn and its mechanism of action in traumatic and vascular diseases of the central nervous system.