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  • Correction to: Reduced sphingolipid hydrolase activities, substrate accumulation and ganglioside decline in Parkinson’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2020-01-15
    Mylene Huebecker; Elizabeth B. Moloney; Aarnoud C. van der Spoel; David A. Priestman; Ole Isacson; Penelope J. Hallett; Frances M. Platt

    The original article [1] contains an error in the y-axes of Fig. 8’s sub-figures whereby ‘CSF’ is mistakenly mentioned instead of ‘serum’.

  • Alpha-synuclein-induced mitochondrial dysfunction is mediated via a sirtuin 3-dependent pathway
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2020-01-13
    Jae-Hyeon Park; Jeremy D. Burgess; Ayman H. Faroqi; Natasha N. DeMeo; Fabienne C. Fiesel; Wolfdieter Springer; Marion Delenclos; Pamela J. McLean

    Misfolding and aggregation of the presynaptic protein alpha-synuclein (αsyn) is a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and related synucleinopathies. Although predominantly localized in the cytosol, a body of evidence has shown that αsyn localizes to mitochondria and contributes to the disruption of key mitochondrial processes. Mitochondrial dysfunction is central to the progression of PD and mutations in mitochondrial-associated proteins are found in familial cases of PD. The sirtuins are highly conserved nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)-dependent enzymes that play a broad role in cellular metabolism and aging. Interestingly, mitochondrial sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) plays a major role in maintaining mitochondrial function and preventing oxidative stress, and is downregulated in aging and age-associated diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders. Herein, we hypothesize that αsyn is associated with decreased SIRT3 levels contributing to impaired mitochondrial dynamics and biogenesis in PD. The level of mitochondrial SIRT3 was assessed in cells expressing oligomeric αsyn within the cytosolic and mitochondrial-enriched fractions. Mitochondrial integrity, respiration, and health were examined using several markers of mitochondrial dynamics and stress response and by measuring the rate of oxygen consumption (OCR). Our findings were validated in a rodent model of PD as well as in human post-mortem Lewy body disease (LBD) brain tissue. Here, we demonstrate that αsyn associates with mitochondria and induces a decrease in mitochondrial SIRT3 levels and mitochondrial biogenesis. We show that SIRT3 downregulation is accompanied by decreased phosphorylation of AMPK and cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB), as well as increased phosphorylation of dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1), indicative of impaired mitochondrial dynamics. OCR was significantly decreased suggesting a mitochondria respiratory deficit. Interestingly treatment with AMPK agonist 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-d-ribofuranoside (AICAR) restores SIRT3 expression, improves mitochondrial function, and decreases αsyn oligomer formation in a SIRT3-dependent manner. Together, our findings suggest that pharmacologically increasing SIRT3 levels can counteract αsyn-induced mitochondrial dysfunction by reducing αsyn oligomers and normalizing mitochondrial bioenergetics. These data support a protective role for SIRT3 in PD-associated pathways and contribute significant mechanistic insight into the interplay of SIRT3 and αsyn.

  • VGF-derived peptide TLQP-21 modulates microglial function through C3aR1 signaling pathways and reduces neuropathology in 5xFAD mice
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2020-01-10
    Farida El Gaamouch; Mickael Audrain; Wei-Jye Lin; Noam Beckmann; Cheng Jiang; Siddharth Hariharan; Peter S. Heeger; Eric E. Schadt; Sam Gandy; Michelle E. Ehrlich; Stephen R. Salton

    Multiomic studies by several groups in the NIH Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Alzheimer’s Disease (AMP-AD) identified VGF as a major driver of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), also finding that reduced VGF levels correlate with mean amyloid plaque density, Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) and Braak scores. VGF-derived peptide TLQP-21 activates the complement C3a receptor-1 (C3aR1), predominantly expressed in the brain on microglia. However, it is unclear how mouse or human TLQP-21, which are not identical, modulate microglial function and/or AD progression. We performed phagocytic/migration assays and RNA sequencing on BV2 microglial cells and primary microglia isolated from wild-type or C3aR1-null mice following treatment with TLQP-21 or C3a super agonist (C3aSA). Effects of intracerebroventricular TLQP-21 delivery were evaluated in 5xFAD mice, a mouse amyloidosis model of AD. Finally, the human HMC3 microglial cell line was treated with human TLQP-21 to determine whether specific peptide functions are conserved from mouse to human. We demonstrate that TLQP-21 increases motility and phagocytic capacity in murine BV2 microglial cells, and in primary wild-type but not in C3aR1-null murine microglia, which under basal conditions have impaired phagocytic function compared to wild-type. RNA sequencing of primary microglia revealed overlapping transcriptomic changes induced by treatment with TLQP-21 or C3a super agonist (C3aSA). There were no transcriptomic changes in C3aR1-null or wild-type microglia exposed to the mutant peptide TLQP-R21A, which does not activate C3aR1. Most of the C3aSA- and TLQP-21-induced differentially expressed genes were linked to cell migration and proliferation. Intracerebroventricular TLQP-21 administration for 28 days via implanted osmotic pump resulted in a reduction of amyloid plaques and associated dystrophic neurites and restored expression of subsets of Alzheimer-associated microglial genes. Finally, we found that human TLQP-21 activates human microglia in a fashion similar to activation of murine microglia by mouse TLQP-21. These data provide molecular and functional evidence suggesting that mouse and human TLQP-21 modulate microglial function, with potential implications for the progression of AD-related neuropathology.

  • Contribution of GABAergic interneurons to amyloid-β plaque pathology in an APP knock-in mouse model
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2020-01-08
    Heather C. Rice; Gabriele Marcassa; Iordana Chrysidou; Katrien Horré; Tracy L. Young-Pearse; Ulrike C. Müller; Takashi Saito; Takaomi C. Saido; Robert Vassar; Joris de Wit; Bart De Strooper

    The amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide, the primary constituent of amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brains, is derived from sequential proteolytic processing of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP). However, the contribution of different cell types to Aβ deposition has not yet been examined in an in vivo, non-overexpression system. Here, we show that endogenous APP is highly expressed in a heterogeneous subset of GABAergic interneurons throughout various laminae of the hippocampus, suggesting that these cells may have a profound contribution to AD plaque pathology. We then characterized the laminar distribution of amyloid burden in the hippocampus of an APP knock-in mouse model of AD. To examine the contribution of GABAergic interneurons to plaque pathology, we blocked Aβ production specifically in these cells using a cell type-specific knock-out of BACE1. We found that during early stages of plaque deposition, interneurons contribute to approximately 30% of the total plaque load in the hippocampus. The greatest contribution to plaque load (75%) occurs in the stratum pyramidale of CA1, where plaques in human AD cases are most prevalent and where pyramidal cell bodies and synaptic boutons from perisomatic-targeting interneurons are located. These findings reveal a crucial role of GABAergic interneurons in the pathology of AD. Our study also highlights the necessity of using APP knock-in models to correctly evaluate the cellular contribution to amyloid burden since APP overexpressing transgenic models drive expression in cell types according to the promoter and integration site and not according to physiologically relevant expression mechanisms.

  • Promoting tau secretion and propagation by hyperactive p300/CBP via autophagy-lysosomal pathway in tauopathy
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2020-01-06
    Xu Chen; Yaqiao Li; Chao Wang; Yinyan Tang; Sue-Ann Mok; Richard M. Tsai; Julio C. Rojas; Anna Karydas; Bruce L. Miller; Adam L. Boxer; Jason E. Gestwicki; Michelle Arkin; Ana Maria Cuervo; Li Gan

    The trans-neuronal propagation of tau has been implicated in the progression of tau-mediated neurodegeneration. There is critical knowledge gap in understanding how tau is released and transmitted, and how that is dysregulated in diseases. Previously, we reported that lysine acetyltransferase p300/CBP acetylates tau and regulates its degradation and toxicity. However, whether p300/CBP is involved in regulation of tau secretion and propagation is unknown. We investigated the relationship between p300/CBP activity, the autophagy-lysosomal pathway (ALP) and tau secretion in mouse models of tauopathy and in cultured rodent and human neurons. Through a high-through-put compound screen, we identified a new p300 inhibitor that promotes autophagic flux and reduces tau secretion. Using fibril-induced tau spreading models in vitro and in vivo, we examined how p300/CBP regulates tau propagation. Increased p300/CBP activity was associated with aberrant accumulation of ALP markers in a tau transgenic mouse model. p300/CBP hyperactivation blocked autophagic flux and increased tau secretion in neurons. Conversely, inhibiting p300/CBP promoted autophagic flux, reduced tau secretion, and reduced tau propagation in fibril-induced tau spreading models in vitro and in vivo. We report that p300/CBP, a lysine acetyltransferase aberrantly activated in tauopathies, causes impairment in ALP, leading to excess tau secretion. This effect, together with increased intracellular tau accumulation, contributes to enhanced spreading of tau. Our findings suggest that inhibition of p300/CBP as a novel approach to correct ALP dysfunction and block disease progression in tauopathy.

  • Longitudinal and nonlinear relations of dietary and Serum cholesterol in midlife with cognitive decline: results from EMCOA study
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-12-30
    Yu An; Xiaona Zhang; Ying Wang; Yushan Wang; Wen Liu; Tao Wang; Zhongsheng Qin; Rong Xiao

    Previous studies regarding the cholesterol-cognition relationship in midlife have generated conflicting results. We thus investigated whether dietary and blood cholesterol were associated with cognitive decline. Participants were drawn from a large cohort study entitled the Effects and Mechanism Investigation of Cholesterol and Oxysterol on Alzheimer’s disease (EMCOA) study. We included 2514 participants who completed a selection of comprehensive cognitive tests and were followed for an average of 2.3 years. Blood concentrations of total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides (TG) were assessed and dietary intakes were investigated by food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) at baseline. Apolipoprotein E (APOE) was genotyped by Kompetitive Allele Specific PCR (KASP) sequencing. Non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (Non-HDL-C) and LDL-C/HDL-C ratio were calculated. The longitudinal effects of dietary and blood cholesterol on risk of global cognitive decline (decrease in Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) > 2 points) were examined using Cox proportional hazards models. The nonlinear associations with global and domain-specific cognitive decline was evaluated with mixed effect linear models. In Cox proportional hazards models, neither cholesterol nor egg intake was associated with a higher risk of accelerated global cognitive decline. In contrast, the higher serum concentrations of TC, LDL-C, non-HDL-C and LDL-C/HDL-C ratio were positively associated with accelerated global cognitive decline regardless of being evaluated continuously or categorically while higher HDL-C was positively associated with accelerated global cognitive decline only when being evaluated categorically (all P < 0.05). In mixed effect linear models, quadratic and longitudinal relations of dietary cholesterol and egg intakes to global cognition, processing speed and executive function were observed. Moreover, there were inverted U-shaped relations of HDL-C, with processing speed and executive function but U-shaped relations of HDL-C and LDL-C/HDL-C ratio with verbal memory. Adverse linear associations of higher LDL-C and LDL-C/HDL-C ratio with multiple cognitive comes were also revealed. Additionally adjusting for APOE genotype did not modify cholesterol-cognition associations. Dietary and serum cholesterol had variable associations with global and domain-specific cognitive decline across educational groups. Differential associations between dietary/serum cholesterol and cognitive decline across different domains of function were observed in a particular population of middle-aged and elderly Chinese. Interventions to improve cognitive reserve regarding dietary instruction and lipid management should be tailored according to specific target. EMCOA, ChiCTR-OOC-17011882, Registered 5th, July 2017-Retrospectively registered, http://www.medresman.org/uc/project/projectedit.aspx?proj=2610

  • Genetic perturbations of disease risk genes in mice capture transcriptomic signatures of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-12-26
    Ravi S. Pandey; Leah Graham; Asli Uyar; Christoph Preuss; Gareth R. Howell; Gregory W. Carter

    New genetic and genomic resources have identified multiple genetic risk factors for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) and characterized this common dementia at the molecular level. Experimental studies in model organisms can validate these associations and elucidate the links between specific genetic factors and transcriptomic signatures. Animal models based on LOAD-associated genes can potentially connect common genetic variation with LOAD transcriptomes, thereby providing novel insights into basic biological mechanisms underlying the disease. We performed RNA-Seq on whole brain samples from a panel of six-month-old female mice, each carrying one of the following mutations: homozygous deletions of Apoe and Clu; hemizygous deletions of Bin1 and Cd2ap; and a transgenic APOEε4. Similar data from a transgenic APP/PS1 model was included for comparison to early-onset variant effects. Weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) was used to identify modules of correlated genes and each module was tested for differential expression by strain. We then compared mouse modules with human postmortem brain modules from the Accelerating Medicine’s Partnership for AD (AMP-AD) to determine the LOAD-related processes affected by each genetic risk factor. Mouse modules were significantly enriched in multiple AD-related processes, including immune response, inflammation, lipid processing, endocytosis, and synaptic cell function. WGCNA modules were significantly associated with Apoe−/−, APOEε4, Clu−/−, and APP/PS1 mouse models. Apoe−/−, GFAP-driven APOEε4, and APP/PS1 driven modules overlapped with AMP-AD inflammation and microglial modules; Clu−/− driven modules overlapped with synaptic modules; and APP/PS1 modules separately overlapped with lipid-processing and metabolism modules. This study of genetic mouse models provides a basis to dissect the role of AD risk genes in relevant AD pathologies. We determined that different genetic perturbations affect different molecular mechanisms comprising AD, and mapped specific effects to each risk gene. Our approach provides a platform for further exploration into the causes and progression of AD by assessing animal models at different ages and/or with different combinations of LOAD risk variants.

  • LRRK2 Biology from structure to dysfunction: research progresses, but the themes remain the same
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-12-21
    Daniel C. Berwick; George R. Heaton; Sonia Azeggagh; Kirsten Harvey

    Since the discovery of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) as a protein that is likely central to the aetiology of Parkinson’s disease, a considerable amount of work has gone into uncovering its basic cellular function. This effort has led to the implication of LRRK2 in a bewildering range of cell biological processes and pathways, and probable roles in a number of seemingly unrelated medical conditions. In this review we summarise current knowledge of the basic biochemistry and cellular function of LRRK2. Topics covered include the identification of phosphorylation substrates of LRRK2 kinase activity, in particular Rab proteins, and advances in understanding the activation of LRRK2 kinase activity via dimerisation and association with membranes, especially via interaction with Rab29. We also discuss biochemical studies that shed light on the complex LRRK2 GTPase activity, evidence of roles for LRRK2 in a range of cell signalling pathways that are likely cell type specific, and studies linking LRRK2 to the cell biology of organelles. The latter includes the involvement of LRRK2 in autophagy, endocytosis, and processes at the trans-Golgi network, the endoplasmic reticulum and also key microtubule-based cellular structures. We further propose a mechanism linking LRRK2 dimerisation, GTPase function and membrane recruitment with LRRK2 kinase activation by Rab29. Together these data paint a picture of a research field that in many ways is moving forward with great momentum, but in other ways has not changed fundamentally. Many key advances have been made, but very often they seem to lead back to the same places.

  • Synergistic effects of APOE and sex on the gut microbiome of young EFAD transgenic mice
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-12-20
    Juan Maldonado Weng; Ishita Parikh; Ankur Naqib; Jason York; Stefan J. Green; Steven Estus; Mary Jo LaDu

    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. APOE4 is the greatest genetic risk factor for AD, increasing risk up to 15-fold compared to the common APOE3. Importantly, female (♀) APOE4 carriers have a greater risk for developing AD and an increased rate of cognitive decline compared to male (♂) APOE4 carriers. While recent evidence demonstrates that AD, APOE genotype, and sex affect the gut microbiome (GM), how APOE genotype and sex interact to affect the GM in AD remains unknown. This study analyzes the GM of 4-month (4 M) ♂ and ♀ E3FAD and E4FAD mice, transgenic mice that overproduce amyloid-β 42 (Aβ42) and express human APOE3+/+ or APOE4+/+. Fecal microbiotas were analyzed using high-throughput sequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicons and clustered into operational taxonomic units (OTU). Microbial diversity of the EFAD GM was compared across APOE, sex and stratified by APOE + sex, resulting in 4-cohorts (♂E3FAD, ♀E3FAD, ♂E4FAD and ♀E4FAD). Permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA) evaluated differences in bacterial communities between cohorts and the effects of APOE + sex. Mann-Whitney tests and machine-learning algorithms identified differentially abundant taxa associated with APOE + sex. Significant differences in the EFAD GM were associated with APOE genotype and sex. Stratification by APOE + sex revealed that APOE-associated differences were exhibited in ♂EFAD and ♀EFAD mice, and sex-associated differences were exhibited in E3FAD and E4FAD mice. Specifically, the relative abundance of bacteria from the genera Prevotella and Ruminococcus was significantly higher in ♀E4FAD compared to ♀E3FAD, while the relative abundance of Sutterella was significantly higher in ♂E4FAD compared to ♂E3FAD. Based on 29 OTUs identified by the machine-learning algorithms, heatmap analysis revealed significant clustering of ♀E4FAD separate from other cohorts. The results demonstrate that the 4 M EFAD GM is modulated by APOE + sex. Importantly, the effect of APOE4 on the EFAD GM is modulated by sex, a pattern similar to the greater AD pathology associated with ♀E4FAD. While this study demonstrates the importance of interactive effects of APOE + sex on the GM in young AD transgenic mice, changes associated with the development of pathology remain to be defined.

  • BrightFocus Alzheimer’s Fast Track 2019
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-12-20
    Keith W. Whitaker; Frank M. LaFerla; Harry W. M. Steinbusch; Cynthia A. Lemere; Diane E. Bovenkamp

    The 3 day workshop “Alzheimer’s Fast Track” is a unique opportunity for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or other early-career scientists, focused on Alzheimer’s disease research, to gain new knowledge and become an expert in where this emerging scientific field is moving. In addition, it is not only about receiving a good overview, but also learning to write and defend a successful application for securing funding for Alzheimer’s disease research projects.

  • Generating microglia from human pluripotent stem cells: novel in vitro models for the study of neurodegeneration
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-12-19
    Anna M. Speicher; Heinz Wiendl; Sven G. Meuth; Matthias Pawlowski

    Microglia play an essential role for central nervous system (CNS) development and homeostasis and have been implicated in the onset, progression, and clearance of numerous diseases affecting the CNS. Previous in vitro research on human microglia was restricted to post-mortem brain tissue-derived microglia, with limited availability and lack of scalability. Recently, the first protocols for the generation of microglia from human pluripotent stem cells have become available, thus enabling the implementation of powerful platforms for disease modeling, drug testing, and studies on cell transplantation. Here we give a detailed and comprehensive overview of the protocols available for generating microglia from human pluripotent stem cells, highlighting the advantages, drawbacks, and operability and placing them into the context of current knowledge of human embryonic development. We review novel insights into microglia biology and the role of microglia in neurological diseases as drawn from the new methods and provide an outlook for future lines of research involving human pluripotent stem cell-derived microglia.

  • Organotypic brain slice cultures to model neurodegenerative proteinopathies
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-12-02
    C. L. Croft; H. S. Futch; B. D. Moore; T. E. Golde

    Organotypic slice cultures of brain or spinal cord have been a longstanding tool in neuroscience research but their utility for understanding Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative proteinopathies has only recently begun to be evaluated. Organotypic brain slice cultures (BSCs) represent a physiologically relevant three-dimensional model of the brain. BSCs support all the central nervous system (CNS) cell types and can be produced from brain areas involved in neurodegenerative disease. BSCs can be used to better understand the induction and significance of proteinopathies underlying the development and progression of AD and other neurodegenerative disorders, and in the future may serve as bridging technologies between cell culture and in vivo experiments for the development and evaluation of novel therapeutic targets and strategies. We review the initial development and general use of BSCs in neuroscience research and highlight the advantages of these cultures as an ex vivo model. Subsequently we focus on i) BSC-based modeling of AD and other neurodegenerative proteinopathies ii) use of BSCs to understand mechanisms underlying these diseases and iii) how BSCs can serve as tools to screen for suitable therapeutics prior to in vivo investigations. Finally, we will examine i) open questions regarding the use of such cultures and ii) how emerging technologies such as recombinant adeno-associated viruses (rAAV) may be combined with these models to advance translational research relevant to neurodegenerative disorders.

  • Disease-modifying effects of metabolic perturbations in ALS/FTLD
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2018-12-04
    Ali Jawaid; Romesa Khan; Magdalini Polymenidou; Paul E. Schulz

    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) are two fatal neurodegenerative disorders with considerable clinical, pathological and genetic overlap. Both disorders are characterized by the accumulation of pathological protein aggregates that contain a number of proteins, most notably TAR DNA binding protein 43 kDa (TDP-43). Surprisingly, recent clinical studies suggest that dyslipidemia, high body mass index, and type 2 diabetes mellitus are associated with better clinical outcomes in ALS. Moreover, ALS and FTLD patients have a significantly lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, supporting the idea that an unfavorable metabolic profile may be beneficial in ALS and FTLD. The two most widely studied ALS/FTLD models, super-oxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) and TAR DNA binding protein of 43 kDA (TDP-43), reveal metabolic dysfunction and a positive effect of metabolic strategies on disease onset and/or progression. In addition, molecular studies reveal a role for ALS/FTLD-associated proteins in the regulation of cellular and whole-body metabolism. Here, we systematically evaluate these observations and discuss how changes in cellular glucose/lipid metabolism may result in abnormal protein aggregations in ALS and FTLD, which may have important implications for new treatment strategies for ALS/FTLD and possibly other neurodegenerative conditions.

  • Advances in developing novel therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2018-12-12
    Jiqing Cao; Jianwei Hou; Jing Ping; Dongming Cai

    Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease of aging, affects one in eight older Americans. Nearly all drug treatments tested for AD today have failed to show any efficacy. There is a great need for therapies to prevent and/or slow the progression of AD. The major challenge in AD drug development is lack of clarity about the mechanisms underlying AD pathogenesis and pathophysiology. Several studies support the notion that AD is a multifactorial disease. While there is abundant evidence that amyloid plays a role in AD pathogenesis, other mechanisms have been implicated in AD such as tangle formation and spread, dysregulated protein degradation pathways, neuroinflammation, and loss of support by neurotrophic factors. Therefore, current paradigms of AD drug design have been shifted from single target approach (primarily amyloid-centric) to developing drugs targeted at multiple disease aspects, and from treating AD at later stages of disease progression to focusing on preventive strategies at early stages of disease development. Here, we summarize current strategies and new trends of AD drug development, including pre-clinical and clinical trials that target different aspects of disease (mechanism-based versus non-mechanism based, e.g. symptomatic treatments, lifestyle modifications and risk factor management).

  • Genome-wide RNAseq study of the molecular mechanisms underlying microglia activation in response to pathological tau perturbation in the rTg4510 tau transgenic animal model
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2018-12-17
    Hong Wang; Yupeng Li; John W. Ryder; Justin T. Hole; Philip J. Ebert; David C. Airey; Hui-Rong Qian; Benjamin Logsdon; Alice Fisher; Zeshan Ahmed; Tracey K. Murray; Annalisa Cavallini; Suchira Bose; Brian J. Eastwood; David A. Collier; Jeffrey L. Dage; Bradley B. Miller; Kalpana M. Merchant; Michael J. O’Neill; Ronald B. Demattos

    Activation of microglia, the resident immune cells of the central nervous system, is a prominent pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the gene expression changes underlying microglia activation in response to tau pathology remain elusive. Furthermore, it is not clear how murine gene expression changes relate to human gene expression networks. Microglia cells were isolated from rTg4510 tau transgenic mice and gene expression was profiled using RNA sequencing. Four age groups of mice (2-, 4-, 6-, and 8-months) were analyzed to capture longitudinal gene expression changes that correspond to varying levels of pathology, from minimal tau accumulation to massive neuronal loss. Statistical and system biology approaches were used to analyze the genes and pathways that underlie microglia activation. Differentially expressed genes were compared to human brain co-expression networks. Statistical analysis of RNAseq data indicated that more than 4000 genes were differentially expressed in rTg4510 microglia compared to wild type microglia, with the majority of gene expression changes occurring between 2- and 4-months of age. These genes belong to four major clusters based on their temporal expression pattern. Genes involved in innate immunity were continuously up-regulated, whereas genes involved in the glutamatergic synapse were down-regulated. Up-regulated innate inflammatory pathways included NF-κB signaling, cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction, lysosome, oxidative phosphorylation, and phagosome. NF-κB and cytokine signaling were among the earliest pathways activated, likely driven by the RELA, STAT1 and STAT6 transcription factors. The expression of many AD associated genes such as APOE and TREM2 was also altered in rTg4510 microglia cells. Differentially expressed genes in rTg4510 microglia were enriched in human neurodegenerative disease associated pathways, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases, and highly overlapped with the microglia and endothelial modules of human brain transcriptional co-expression networks. This study revealed temporal transcriptome alterations in microglia cells in response to pathological tau perturbation and provides insight into the molecular changes underlying microglia activation during tau mediated neurodegeneration.

  • New insights into the role of TREM2 in Alzheimer’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2018-12-20
    Maud Gratuze; Cheryl E. G. Leyns; David M. Holtzman

    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia. The two histopathological markers of AD are amyloid plaques composed of the amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide, and neurofibrillary tangles of aggregated, abnormally hyperphosphorylated tau protein. The majority of AD cases are late-onset, after the age of 65, where a clear cause is still unknown. However, there are likely different multifactorial contributors including age, enviornment, biology and genetics which can increase risk for the disease. Genetic predisposition is considerable, with heritability estimates of 60–80%. Genetic factors such as rare variants of TREM2 (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-2) strongly increase the risk of developing AD, confirming the role of microglia in AD pathogenesis. In the last 5 years, several studies have dissected the mechanisms by which TREM2, as well as its rare variants affect amyloid and tau pathologies and their consequences in both animal models and in human studies. In this review, we summarize increases in our understanding of the involvement of TREM2 and microglia in AD development that may open new therapeutic strategies targeting the immune system to influence AD pathogenesis.

  • Development and validation of a simplified method to generate human microglia from pluripotent stem cells
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2018-12-22
    Amanda McQuade; Morgan Coburn; Christina H. Tu; Jonathan Hasselmann; Hayk Davtyan; Mathew Blurton-Jones

    Microglia, the principle immune cells of the brain, play important roles in neuronal development, homeostatic function and neurodegenerative disease. Recent genetic studies have further highlighted the importance of microglia in neurodegeneration with the identification of disease risk polymorphisms in many microglial genes. To better understand the role of these genes in microglial biology and disease, we, and others, have developed methods to differentiate microglia from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). While the development of these methods has begun to enable important new studies of microglial biology, labs with little prior stem cell experience have sometimes found it challenging to adopt these complex protocols. Therefore, we have now developed a greatly simplified approach to generate large numbers of highly pure human microglia. iPSCs are first differentiated toward a mesodermal, hematopoietic lineage using commercially available media. Highly pure populations of non-adherent CD43+ hematopoietic progenitors are then simply transferred to media that includes three key cytokines (M-CSF, IL-34, and TGFβ-1) that promote differentiation of homeostatic microglia. This updated approach avoids the prior requirement for hypoxic incubation, complex media formulation, FACS sorting, or co-culture, thereby significantly simplifying human microglial generation. To confirm that the resulting cells are equivalent to previously developed iPSC-microglia, we performed RNA-sequencing, functional testing, and transplantation studies. Our findings reveal that microglia generated via this simplified method are virtually identical to iPS-microglia produced via our previously published approach. To also determine whether a small molecule activator of TGFβ signaling (IDE1) can be used to replace recombinant TGFβ1, further reducing costs, we examined growth kinetics and the transcriptome of cells differentiated with IDE1. These data demonstrate that a microglial cell can indeed be produced using this alternative approach, although transcriptional differences do occur that should be considered. We anticipate that this new and greatly simplified protocol will enable many interested labs, including those with little prior stem cell or flow cytometry experience, to generate and study human iPS-microglia. By combining this method with other advances such as CRISPR-gene editing and xenotransplantation, the field will continue to improve our understanding of microglial biology and their important roles in human development, homeostasis, and disease.

  • Proteolytic cleavage of Beclin 1 exacerbates neurodegeneration
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2018-12-29
    Gregor Bieri; Kurt M. Lucin; Caitlin E. O’Brien; Hui Zhang; Saul A. Villeda; Tony Wyss-Coray

    Neuronal cell loss contributes to the pathology of acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It remains crucial to identify molecular mechanisms sensitizing neurons to various insults and cell death. To date, the multifunctional, autophagy-related protein Beclin 1 has been shown to be both necessary and sufficient for neuronal integrity in neurodegenerative models associated with protein aggregation. Interestingly, besides its role in cellular homeostasis, Beclin 1 has also been ascribed a role in apoptosis. This makes it critical to elucidate whether Beclin 1 regulates neuronal death and survival across neurodegenerative conditions independent of protein clearance. Here, we provide experimental evidence for a direct functional link between proteolytic cleavage of Beclin 1 and apoptotic neuronal cell loss in two independent models of neurodegeneration in vivo. Proteolytic cleavage of Beclin 1 was characterized in lysates of human AD brain samples. We developed viral tools allowing for the selective neuronal expression of the various Beclin 1 forms, including Beclin 1 cleavage products as well as a cleavage-resistant form. The effect of these Beclin 1 forms on survival and integrity of neurons was examined in models of acute and chronic neurodegeneration in vitro and in vivo. Markers of neuronal integrity, neurodegeneration and inflammation were further assessed in a Kainic acid-based mouse model of acute excitotoxic neurodegeneration and in a hAPP-transgenic mouse model of AD following perturbation of Beclin 1 in the susceptible CA1 region of the hippocampus. We find a significant increase in caspase-mediated Beclin 1 cleavage fragments in brain lysates of human AD patients and mimic this phenotype in vivo using both an excitotoxic and hAPP-transgenic mouse model of neurodegeneration. Surprisingly, overexpression of the C-terminal cleavage-fragment exacerbated neurodegeneration in two distinct models of degeneration. Local inhibition of caspase activity ameliorated neurodegeneration after excitotoxic insult and prevented Beclin 1 cleavage. Furthermore, overexpression of a cleavage-resistant form of Beclin 1 in hippocampal neurons conferred neuroprotection against excitotoxic and Amyloid beta-associated insults in vivo. Together, these findings indicate that the cleavage state of Beclin 1 determines its functional involvement in both neurodegeneration and neuroprotection. Hence, manipulating the cleavage state of Beclin 1 may represent a therapeutic strategy for preventing neuronal cell loss across multiple forms of neurodegeneration.

  • Early increase of CSF sTREM2 in Alzheimer’s disease is associated with tau related-neurodegeneration but not with amyloid-β pathology
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-01-10
    Marc Suárez-Calvet; Estrella Morenas-Rodríguez; Gernot Kleinberger; Kai Schlepckow; Miguel Ángel Araque Caballero; Nicolai Franzmeier; Anja Capell; Katrin Fellerer; Brigitte Nuscher; Erden Eren; Johannes Levin; Yuetiva Deming; Laura Piccio; Celeste M. Karch; Carlos Cruchaga; Leslie M. Shaw; John Q. Trojanowski; Michael Weiner; Michael Ewers; Christian Haass

    TREM2 is a transmembrane receptor that is predominantly expressed by microglia in the central nervous system. Rare variants in the TREM2 gene increase the risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Soluble TREM2 (sTREM2) resulting from shedding of the TREM2 ectodomain can be detected in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and is a surrogate measure of TREM2-mediated microglia function. CSF sTREM2 has been previously reported to increase at different clinical stages of AD, however, alterations in relation to Amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) deposition or additional pathological processes in the amyloid cascade (such as tau pathology or neurodegeneration) remain unclear. In the current cross-sectional study, we employed the biomarker-based classification framework recently proposed by the NIA-AA consensus guidelines, in combination with clinical staging, in order to examine the CSF sTREM2 alterations at early asymptomatic and symptomatic stages of AD. A cross-sectional study of 1027 participants of the Alzheimer’s Disease Imaging Initiative (ADNI) cohort, including 43 subjects carrying TREM2 rare genetic variants, was conducted to measure CSF sTREM2 using a previously validated enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). ADNI participants were classified following the A/T/N framework, which we implemented based on the CSF levels of Aβ1-42 (A), phosphorylated tau (T) and total tau as a marker of neurodegeneration (N), at different clinical stages defined by the clinical dementia rating (CDR) score. CSF sTREM2 differed between TREM2 variants, whereas the p.R47H variant had higher CSF sTREM2, p.L211P had lower CSF sTREM2 than non-carriers. We found that CSF sTREM2 increased in early symptomatic stages of late-onset AD but, unexpectedly, we observed decreased CSF sTREM2 levels at the earliest asymptomatic phase when only abnormal Aβ pathology (A+) but no tau pathology or neurodegeneration (TN-), is present. Aβ pathology (A) and tau pathology/neurodegeneration (TN) have differing associations with CSF sTREM2. While tau-related neurodegeneration is associated with an increase in CSF sTREM2, Aβ pathology in the absence of downstream tau-related neurodegeneration is associated with a decrease in CSF sTREM2.

  • Glucose transporter 1 critically controls microglial activation through facilitating glycolysis
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-01-11
    Luxi Wang; Sofia Pavlou; Xuan Du; Mohajeet Bhuckory; Heping Xu; Mei Chen

    Uncontrolled microglial activation contributes to the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative diseases. Previous studies have shown that proinflammatory microglia are powered by glycolysis, which relays on high levels of glucose uptake. This study aimed to understand how glucose uptake is facilitated in active microglia and whether microglial activation can be controlled by restricting glucose uptake. Primary murine brain microglia, BV2 cells and the newly established microglial cell line B6M7 were treated with LPS (100 ng/ml) + IFNγ (100 ng/ml) or IL-4 (20 ng/ml) for 24 h. The expression of glucose transporters (GLUTs) was examined by PCR and Western blot. Glucose uptake by microglia was inhibited using the GLUT1-specific inhibitor STF31. The metabolic profiles were tested using the Glycolysis Stress Test and Mito Stress Test Kits using the Seahorse XFe96 Analyser. Inflammatory gene expression was examined by real-time RT-PCR and protein secretion by cytokine beads array. The effect of STF31 on microglial activation and neurodegeneraion was further tested in a mouse model of light-induced retinal degeneration. The mRNA and protein of GLUT1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 13 were detected in microglia. The expression level of GLUT1 was the highest among all GLUTs detected. LPS + IFNγ treatment further increased GLUT1 expression. STF31 dose-dependently reduced glucose uptake and suppressed Extracellular Acidification Rate (ECAR) in naïve, M(LPS + IFNγ) and M(IL-4) microglia. The treatment also prevented the upregulation of inflammatory cytokines including TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6, and CCL2 in M(LPS + IFNγ) microglia. Interestingly, the Oxygen Consumption Rates (OCR) was increased in M(LPS + IFNγ) microglia but reduced in M(IL-4) microglia by STF31 treatment. Intraperitoneal injection of STF31 reduced light-induced microglial activation and retinal degeneration. Glucose uptake in microglia is facilitated predominately by GLUT1, particularly under inflammatory conditions. Targeting GLUT1 could be an effective approach to control neuroinflammation.

  • Recent advances and perspectives of metabolomics-based investigations in Parkinson’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-01-11
    Yaping Shao; Weidong Le

    Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system (CNS), which affects mostly older adults. In recent years, the incidence of PD has been dramatically increasing with the aging population expanding. Due to the lack of effective biomarkers, the accurate diagnosis and precise treatment of PD are currently compromised. Notably, metabolites have been considered as the most direct reflection of the physiological and pathological conditions in individuals and represent attractive candidates to provide deep insights into disease phenotypes. By profiling the metabolites in biofluids (cerebrospinal fluid, blood, urine), feces and brain tissues, metabolomics has become a powerful and promising tool to identify novel biomarkers and provide valuable insights into the etiopathogenesis of neurological diseases. In this review, we will summarize the recent advancements of major analytical platforms implemented in metabolomics studies, dedicated to the improvement and extension of metabolome coverage for in-depth biological research. Based on the current metabolomics studies in both clinical populations and experimental PD models, this review will present new findings in metabolomics biomarkers research and abnormal metabolic pathways in PD, and will discuss the correlation between metabolomic changes and clinical conditions of PD. A better understanding of the biological underpinning of PD pathogenesis might offer novel diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic approaches to this devastating disease.

  • Emerging new roles of the lysosome and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-01-16
    Anil B. Mukherjee; Abhilash P. Appu; Tamal Sadhukhan; Sydney Casey; Avisek Mondal; Zhongjian Zhang; Maria B. Bagh

    Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (NCLs), commonly known as Batten disease, constitute a group of the most prevalent neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs). Mutations in at least 13 different genes (called CLNs) cause various forms of NCLs. Clinically, the NCLs manifest early impairment of vision, progressive decline in cognitive and motor functions, seizures and a shortened lifespan. At the cellular level, all NCLs show intracellular accumulation of autofluorescent material (called ceroid) and progressive neuron loss. Despite intense studies the normal physiological functions of each of the CLN genes remain poorly understood. Consequently, the development of mechanism-based therapeutic strategies remains challenging. Endolysosomal dysfunction contributes to pathogenesis of virtually all LSDs. Studies within the past decade have drastically changed the notion that the lysosomes are merely the terminal degradative organelles. The emerging new roles of the lysosome include its central role in nutrient-dependent signal transduction regulating metabolism and cellular proliferation or quiescence. In this review, we first provide a brief overview of the endolysosomal and autophagic pathways, lysosomal acidification and endosome-lysosome and autophagosome-lysosome fusions. We emphasize the importance of these processes as their dysregulation leads to pathogenesis of many LSDs including the NCLs. We also describe what is currently known about each of the 13 CLN genes and their products and how understanding the emerging new roles of the lysosome may clarify the underlying pathogenic mechanisms of the NCLs. Finally, we discuss the current and emerging therapeutic strategies for various NCLs.

  • Dementia with Lewy bodies: an update and outlook
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-01-21
    Tiago Fleming Outeiro; David J. Koss; Daniel Erskine; Lauren Walker; Marzena Kurzawa-Akanbi; David Burn; Paul Donaghy; Christopher Morris; John-Paul Taylor; Alan Thomas; Johannes Attems; Ian McKeith

    Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is an age-associated neurodegenerative disorder producing progressive cognitive decline that interferes with normal life and daily activities. Neuropathologically, DLB is characterised by the accumulation of aggregated α-synuclein protein in Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, similar to Parkinson’s disease (PD). Extrapyramidal motor features characteristic of PD, are common in DLB patients, but are not essential for the clinical diagnosis of DLB. Since many PD patients develop dementia as disease progresses, there has been controversy about the separation of DLB from PD dementia (PDD) and consensus reports have put forward guidelines to assist clinicians in the identification and management of both syndromes. Here, we present basic concepts and definitions, based on our current understanding, that should guide the community to address open questions that will, hopefully, lead us towards improved diagnosis and novel therapeutic strategies for DLB and other synucleinopathies.

  • Inhibition of monocyte-like cell extravasation protects from neurodegeneration in DBA/2J glaucoma
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-01-22
    Pete A. Williams; Catherine E. Braine; Krishnakumar Kizhatil; Nicole E. Foxworth; Nicholas G. Tolman; Jeffrey M. Harder; Rebecca A. Scott; Gregory L. Sousa; Alyssa Panitch; Gareth R. Howell; Simon W. M. John

    Glaucoma is characterized by the progressive dysfunction and loss of retinal ganglion cells. Recent work in animal models suggests that a critical neuroinflammatory event damages retinal ganglion cell axons in the optic nerve head during ocular hypertensive injury. We previously demonstrated that monocyte-like cells enter the optic nerve head in an ocular hypertensive mouse model of glaucoma (DBA/2 J), but their roles, if any, in mediating axon damage remain unclear. To understand the function of these infiltrating monocyte-like cells, we used RNA-sequencing to profile their transcriptomes. Based on their pro-inflammatory molecular signatures, we hypothesized and confirmed that monocyte-platelet interactions occur in glaucomatous tissue. Furthermore, to test monocyte function we used two approaches to inhibit their entry into the optic nerve head: (1) treatment with DS-SILY, a peptidoglycan that acts as a barrier to platelet adhesion to the vessel wall and to monocytes, and (2) genetic targeting of Itgam (CD11b, an immune cell receptor that enables immune cell extravasation). Monocyte specific RNA-sequencing identified novel neuroinflammatory pathways early in glaucoma pathogenesis. Targeting these processes pharmacologically (DS-SILY) or genetically (Itgam / CD11b knockout) reduced monocyte entry and provided neuroprotection in DBA/2 J eyes. These data demonstrate a key role of monocyte-like cell extravasation in glaucoma and demonstrate that modulating neuroinflammatory processes can significantly lessen optic nerve injury.

  • Reduced presynaptic vesicle stores mediate cellular and network plasticity defects in an early-stage mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-01-22
    Shreaya Chakroborty; Evan S. Hill; Daniel T. Christian; Rosalind Helfrich; Shannon Riley; Corinne Schneider; Nicolas Kapecki; Sarah Mustaly-Kalimi; Figen A. Seiler; Daniel A. Peterson; Anthony R. West; Barbara M. Vertel; William N. Frost; Grace E. Stutzmann

    Identifying effective strategies to prevent memory loss in AD has eluded researchers to date, and likely reflects insufficient understanding of early pathogenic mechanisms directly affecting memory encoding. As synaptic loss best correlates with memory loss in AD, refocusing efforts to identify factors driving synaptic impairments may provide the critical insight needed to advance the field. In this study, we reveal a previously undescribed cascade of events underlying pre and postsynaptic hippocampal signaling deficits linked to cognitive decline in AD. These profound alterations in synaptic plasticity, intracellular Ca2+ signaling, and network propagation are observed in 3–4 month old 3xTg-AD mice, an age which does not yet show overt histopathology or major behavioral deficits. In this study, we examined hippocampal synaptic structure and function from the ultrastructural level to the network level using a range of techniques including electron microscopy (EM), patch clamp and field potential electrophysiology, synaptic immunolabeling, spine morphology analyses, 2-photon Ca2+ imaging, and voltage-sensitive dye-based imaging of hippocampal network function in 3–4 month old 3xTg-AD and age/background strain control mice. In 3xTg-AD mice, short-term plasticity at the CA1-CA3 Schaffer collateral synapse is profoundly impaired; this has broader implications for setting long-term plasticity thresholds. Alterations in spontaneous vesicle release and paired-pulse facilitation implicated presynaptic signaling abnormalities, and EM analysis revealed a reduction in the ready-releasable and reserve pools of presynaptic vesicles in CA3 terminals; this is an entirely new finding in the field. Concurrently, increased synaptically-evoked Ca2+ in CA1 spines triggered by LTP-inducing tetani is further enhanced during PTP and E-LTP epochs, and is accompanied by impaired synaptic structure and spine morphology. Notably, vesicle stores, synaptic structure and short-term plasticity are restored by normalizing intracellular Ca2+ signaling in the AD mice. These findings suggest the Ca2+ dyshomeostasis within synaptic compartments has an early and fundamental role in driving synaptic pathophysiology in early stages of AD, and may thus reflect a foundational disease feature driving later cognitive impairment. The overall significance is the identification of previously unidentified defects in pre and postsynaptic compartments affecting synaptic vesicle stores, synaptic plasticity, and network propagation, which directly impact memory encoding.

  • Differences in neurotropism and neurotoxicity among retrograde viral tracers
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-02-08
    Leqiang Sun; Yajie Tang; Keji Yan; Jinsong Yu; Yanyan Zou; Weize Xu; Ke Xiao; Zhihui Zhang; Weiming Li; Beili Wu; Zhe Hu; Kening Chen; Zhen F. Fu; Jinxia Dai; Gang Cao

    Neurotropic virus-based tracers have been extensively applied in mapping and manipulation of neural circuits. However, their neurotropic and neurotoxic properties remain to be fully characterized. Through neural circuit tracing, we systematically compared the neurotropism discrepancy among different multi-trans-synaptic and mono-synaptic retrograde viral tracers including pseudorabies virus (PRV), rabies virus (RV), and the newly engineered retro adeno-associated virus (rAAV2-retro) tracers. The (single-cell) RNA sequencing analysis was utilized for seeking possible attribution to neurotropism discrepancy and comparing cell toxicity caused by viral infection between glycoprotein-deleted RV (RV-∆G) and rAAV2-retro. Viral toxicity induced microglia activation and neuronal protein change were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Multi-trans-synaptic retrograde viral tracers, PRV and RV, exhibit differential neurotropism when they were used for central neural circuit tracing from popliteal lymph nodes. Mono-synaptic retrograde tracers, including RV-∆G and rAAV2-retro, displayed discrepant neurotropic property, when they were applied to trace the inputs of lateral hypothalamic area and medial preoptic nucleus. rAAV2-retro demonstrated preference in cerebral cortex, whereas RV-∆G prefers to label basal ganglia and hypothalamus. Remarkably, we detected a distinct preference for specific cortical layer of rAAV2-retro in layer 5 and RV-∆G in layer 6 when they were injected into dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus to label corticothalamic neurons in primary visual cortex. Complementation of TVA receptor gene in RV-resistant neurons enabled EnvA-pseudotyped RV infection, supporting receptors attribution to viral neurotropism. Furthermore, both RV-∆G and rAAV2-retro exerted neurotoxic influence at the injection sites and retrogradely labeled sites, while the changes were more profound for RV-∆G infection. Finally, we demonstrated a proof-of-concept strategy for more comprehensive high-order circuit tracing of a specific target nucleus by combining rAAV2-retro, RV, and rAAV tracers. Different multi-trans-synaptic and mono-synaptic retrograde viral tracers exhibited discrepant neurotropism within certain brain regions, even cortical layer preference. More neurotoxicity was observed under RV-∆G infection as compared with rAAV2-retro. By combining rAAV2-retro, RV, and rAAV tracers, high-order circuit tracing can be achieved. Our findings provide important reference for appropriate application of viral tracers to delineate the landscape and dissect the function of neural network.

  • Aberrant deposition of stress granule-resident proteins linked to C9orf72-associated TDP-43 proteinopathy
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-02-15
    Jeannie Chew; Casey Cook; Tania F. Gendron; Karen Jansen-West; Giulia del Rosso; Lillian M. Daughrity; Monica Castanedes-Casey; Aishe Kurti; Jeannette N. Stankowski; Matthew D. Disney; Jeffrey D. Rothstein; Dennis W. Dickson; John D. Fryer; Yong-Jie Zhang; Leonard Petrucelli

    A G4C2 hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the noncoding region of C9orf72 is the major genetic cause of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (c9FTD/ALS). Putative disease mechanisms underlying c9FTD/ALS include toxicity from sense G4C2 and antisense G2C4 repeat-containing RNA, and from dipeptide repeat (DPR) proteins unconventionally translated from these RNA products. Intracerebroventricular injections with adeno-associated virus (AAV) encoding 2 or 149 G4C2 repeats were performed on postnatal day 0, followed by assessment of behavioral and neuropathological phenotypes. Relative to control mice, gliosis and neurodegeneration accompanied by cognitive and motor deficits were observed in (G4C2)149 mice by 6 months of age. Recapitulating key pathological hallmarks, we also demonstrate that sense and antisense RNA foci, inclusions of poly(GA), poly(GP), poly(GR), poly(PR), and poly(PA) DPR proteins, and inclusions of endogenous phosphorylated TDP-43 (pTDP-43) developed in (G4C2)149 mice but not control (G4C2)2 mice. Notably, proteins that play a role in the regulation of stress granules – RNA-protein assemblies that form in response to translational inhibition and that have been implicated in c9FTD/ALS pathogenesis – were mislocalized in (G4C2)149 mice as early as 3 months of age. Specifically, we observed the abnormal deposition of stress granule components within inclusions immunopositive for poly(GR) and pTDP-43, as well as evidence of nucleocytoplasmic transport defects. Our in vivo model of c9FTD/ALS is the first to robustly recapitulate hallmark features derived from both sense and antisense C9orf72 repeat-associated transcripts complete with neurodegeneration and behavioral impairments. More importantly, the early appearance of persistent pathological stress granules prior to significant pTDP-43 deposition implicates an aberrant stress granule response as a key disease mechanism driving TDP-43 proteinopathy in c9FTD/ALS.

  • Sleep oscillation-specific associations with Alzheimer’s disease CSF biomarkers: novel roles for sleep spindles and tau
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-02-21
    Korey Kam; Ankit Parekh; Ram A. Sharma; Andreia Andrade; Monica Lewin; Bresne Castillo; Omonigho M. Bubu; Nicholas J. Chua; Margo D. Miller; Anna E. Mullins; Lidia Glodzik; Lisa Mosconi; Nadia Gosselin; Kulkarni Prathamesh; Zhe Chen; Kaj Blennow; Henrik Zetterberg; Nisha Bagchi; Bianca Cavedoni; David M. Rapoport; Indu Ayappa; Mony J. de Leon; Eva Petkova; Andrew W. Varga; Ricardo S. Osorio

    Based on associations between sleep spindles, cognition, and sleep-dependent memory processing, here we evaluated potential relationships between levels of CSF Aβ42, P-tau, and T-tau with sleep spindle density and other biophysical properties of sleep spindles in a sample of cognitively normal elderly individuals. One-night in-lab nocturnal polysomnography (NPSG) and morning to early afternoon CSF collection were performed to measure CSF Aβ42, P-tau and T-tau. Seven days of actigraphy were collected to assess habitual total sleep time. Spindle density during NREM stage 2 (N2) sleep was negatively correlated with CSF Aβ42, P-tau and T-tau. From the three, CSF T-tau was the most significantly associated with spindle density, after adjusting for age, sex and ApoE4. Spindle duration, count and fast spindle density were also negatively correlated with T-tau levels. Sleep duration and other measures of sleep quality were not correlated with spindle characteristics and did not modify the associations between sleep spindle characteristics and the CSF biomarkers of AD. Reduced spindles during N2 sleep may represent an early dysfunction related to tau, possibly reflecting axonal damage or altered neuronal tau secretion, rendering it a potentially novel biomarker for early neuronal dysfunction. Given their putative role in memory consolidation and neuroplasticity, sleep spindles may represent a mechanism by which tau impairs memory consolidation, as well as a possible target for therapeutic interventions in cognitive decline.

  • Dural lymphatics regulate clearance of extracellular tau from the CNS
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-02-27
    Tirth K. Patel; LeMoyne Habimana-Griffin; Xuefeng Gao; Baogang Xu; Samuel Achilefu; Kari Alitalo; Celia A. McKee; Patrick W. Sheehan; Erik S. Musiek; Chengjie Xiong; Dean Coble; David M. Holtzman

    Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by two main neuropathological hallmarks: extracellular plaques of amyloid-β (Aβ) protein and intracellular aggregates of tau protein. Although tau is normally a soluble monomer that bind microtubules, in disease it forms insoluble, hyperphosphorylated aggregates in the cell body. Aside from its role in AD, tau is also involved in several other neurodegenerative disorders collectively called tauopathies, such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), corticobasal degeneration (CBD), some forms of frontotemporal dementia, and argyrophilic grain disease (AGD). The prion hypothesis suggests that after an initial trigger event, misfolded forms of tau are released into the extracellular space, where they spread through different brain regions, enter cells, and seeding previously normal forms. Thus understanding mechanisms regulating the clearance of extracellular tau from the CNS is important. The discovery of a true lymphatic system in the dura and its potential role in mediating Aβ pathology prompted us to investigate its role in regulating extracellular tau clearance. To study clearance of extracellular tau from the brain, we conjugated monomeric human tau with a near-infrared dye cypate, and injected this labeled tau in the parenchyma of both wild-type and K14-VEGFR3-Ig transgenic mice, which lack a functional CNS lymphatic system. Following injection we performed longitudinal imaging using fluorescence molecular tomography (FMT) and quantified fluorescence to calculate clearance of tau from the brain. To complement this, we also measured tau clearance to the periphery by measuring plasma tau in both groups of mice. Our results show that a significantly higher amount of tau is retained in the brains of K14-VEGFR3-Ig vs. wild type mice at 48 and 72 h post-injection and its subsequent clearance to the periphery is delayed. We found that clearance of reference tracer human serum albumin (HSA) was also significantly delayed in the K14-VEGFR3-Ig mice. The dural lymphatic system appears to play an important role in clearance of extracellular tau, since tau clearance is impaired in the absence of functional lymphatics. Based on our baseline characterization of extracellular tau clearance, future studies are warranted to look at the interaction between tau pathology and efficiency of lymphatic function.

  • Human Interleukin-34 facilitates microglia-like cell differentiation and persistent HIV-1 infection in humanized mice
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-03-05
    Saumi Mathews; Amanda Branch Woods; Ikumi Katano; Edward Makarov; Midhun B. Thomas; Howard E. Gendelman; Larisa Y. Poluektova; Mamoru Ito; Santhi Gorantla

    Microglia are the principal innate immune defense cells of the centeral nervous system (CNS) and the target of the human immunodeficiency virus type one (HIV-1). A complete understanding of human microglial biology and function requires the cell’s presence in a brain microenvironment. Lack of relevant animal models thus far has also precluded studies of HIV-1 infection. Productive viral infection in brain occurs only in human myeloid linage microglia and perivascular macrophages and requires cells present throughout the brain. Once infected, however, microglia become immune competent serving as sources of cellular neurotoxic factors leading to disrupted brain homeostasis and neurodegeneration. Herein, we created a humanized bone-marrow chimera producing human “microglia like” cells in NOD.Cg-PrkdcscidIl2rgtm1SugTg(CMV-IL34)1/Jic mice. Newborn mice were engrafted intrahepatically with umbilical cord blood derived CD34+ hematopoietic stem progenitor cells (HSPC). After 3 months of stable engraftment, animals were infected with HIV-1ADA, a myeloid-specific tropic viral isolate. Virologic, immune and brain immunohistology were performed on blood, peripheral lymphoid tissues, and brain. Human interleukin-34 under the control of the cytomegalovirus promoter inserted in NSG mouse strain drove brain reconstitution of HSPC derived peripheral macrophages into microglial-like cells. These human cells expressed canonical human microglial cell markers that included CD14, CD68, CD163, CD11b, ITGB2, CX3CR1, CSFR1, TREM2 and P2RY12. Prior restriction to HIV-1 infection in the rodent brain rested on an inability to reconstitute human microglia. Thus, the natural emergence of these cells from ingressed peripheral macrophages to the brain could allow, for the first time, the study of a CNS viral reservoir. To this end we monitored HIV-1 infection in a rodent brain. Viral RNA and HIV-1p24 antigens were readily observed in infected brain tissues. Deep RNA sequencing of these infected mice and differential expression analysis revealed human-specific molecular signatures representative of antiviral and neuroinflammatory responses. This humanized microglia mouse reflected human HIV-1 infection in its known principal reservoir and showed the development of disease-specific innate immune inflammatory and neurotoxic responses mirroring what can occur in an infected human brain.

  • Functional networks are impaired by elevated tau-protein but reversible in a regulatable Alzheimer’s disease mouse model
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-03-27
    Claudia Green; Astrid Sydow; Stefanie Vogel; Marta Anglada-Huguet; Dirk Wiedermann; Eckhard Mandelkow; Eva-Maria Mandelkow; Mathias Hoehn

    Aggregation of tau proteins is a distinct hallmark of tauopathies and has been a focus of research and clinical trials for Alzheimer’s Disease. Recent reports have pointed towards a toxic effect of soluble or oligomeric tau in the spreading of tau pathology in Alzheimer’s disease. Here we investigated the effects of expressing human tau repeat domain (tauRD) with pro- or anti-aggregant mutations in regulatable transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease on the functional neuronal networks and the structural connectivity strength. Pro-aggregant and anti-aggregant mice were studied when their mutant tauRD was switched on for 12 months to reach the stage where pro-aggregant mice show cognitive impairment, whereas anti-aggregant mice remained cognitively normal. Then, mutant tauRD was switched off by doxycycline treatment for 8 weeks so that soluble transgenic tau disappeared and cognition recovered in the pro-aggregant mice, although some aggregates remained. At these two time points, at baseline after 12 months of mutant tau expression and after 8 weeks of doxycycline treatment, resting state fMRI and diffusion MRI were used to determine functional neuronal networks and fiber connectivities. Results of the transgenic mice were compared with wildtype littermates. Functional connectivity was strongly reduced in transgenic animals during mutant tauRD expression, in relation to WT mice. Interestingly, transgenic mice with the non-aggregant tau mutant showed identical functional deficits as the pro-aggregant mice, even though in this case there was no cognitive decline by behavioral testing. Upon 8 weeks doxycycline treatment and transgene switch-off, functional connectivity in both transgenic groups presented complete normalization of functional connectivity strength, equivalent to the situation in WT littermates. Structural connectivity was found only marginally sensitive to mutant tau expression (both pro- and anti-aggregant tauRD) and by doxycycline treatment. Our in vivo investigations unravel for the first time a strong reduction of functional neuronal networks by the presence of increased soluble rather than fibrillary tau, independent of its intrinsic propensity of aggregation, which is reversible by switching tau off. Our functional MRI study thus is an unexpected in vivo validation of a novel property of tau, while previous results pointed to a role of aggregation propensity for a pathological state by histopathology and cognitive decline. Our results present further evidence for early tauopathy biomarkers or a potential early stage drug target by functional networks analysis.

  • Network approach identifies Pacer as an autophagy protein involved in ALS pathogenesis
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-03-27
    S. Beltran; M. Nassif; E. Vicencio; J. Arcos; L. Labrador; B. I. Cortes; C. Cortez; C. A. Bergmann; S. Espinoza; M. F. Hernandez; J. M. Matamala; L. Bargsted; S. Matus; D. Rojas-Rivera; M. J. M. Bertrand; D. B. Medinas; C. Hetz; P. A. Manque; U. Woehlbier

    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a multifactorial fatal motoneuron disease without a cure. Ten percent of ALS cases can be pointed to a clear genetic cause, while the remaining 90% is classified as sporadic. Our study was aimed to uncover new connections within the ALS network through a bioinformatic approach, by which we identified C13orf18, recently named Pacer, as a new component of the autophagic machinery and potentially involved in ALS pathogenesis. Initially, we identified Pacer using a network-based bioinformatic analysis. Expression of Pacer was then investigated in vivo using spinal cord tissue from two ALS mouse models (SOD1G93A and TDP43A315T) and sporadic ALS patients. Mechanistic studies were performed in cell culture using the mouse motoneuron cell line NSC34. Loss of function of Pacer was achieved by knockdown using short-hairpin constructs. The effect of Pacer repression was investigated in the context of autophagy, SOD1 aggregation, and neuronal death. Using an unbiased network-based approach, we integrated all available ALS data to identify new functional interactions involved in ALS pathogenesis. We found that Pacer associates to an ALS-specific subnetwork composed of components of the autophagy pathway, one of the main cellular processes affected in the disease. Interestingly, we found that Pacer levels are significantly reduced in spinal cord tissue from sporadic ALS patients and in tissues from two ALS mouse models. In vitro, Pacer deficiency lead to impaired autophagy and accumulation of ALS-associated protein aggregates, which correlated with the induction of cell death. This study, therefore, identifies Pacer as a new regulator of proteostasis associated with ALS pathology.

  • Glial phagocytic clearance in Parkinson’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-04-05
    Marie-Eve Tremblay; Mark R. Cookson; Laura Civiero

    An emerging picture suggests that glial cells’ loss of beneficial roles or gain of toxic functions can contribute to neurodegenerative conditions. Among glial cells, microglia and astrocytes have been shown to play phagocytic roles by engulfing synapses, apoptotic cells, cell debris, and released toxic proteins. As pathogenic protein accumulation is a key feature in Parkinson’s disease (PD), compromised phagocytic clearance might participate in PD pathogenesis. In contrast, enhanced, uncontrolled and potentially toxic glial clearance capacity could contribute to synaptic degeneration. Here, we summarize the current knowledge of the molecular mechanisms underlying microglial and astrocytic phagocytosis, focusing on the possible implication of phagocytic dysfunction in neuronal degeneration. Several endo-lysosomal proteins displaying genetic variants in PD are highly expressed by microglia and astrocytes. We also present the evidence that lysosomal defects can affect phagocytic clearance and discuss the therapeutic relevance of restoring or enhancing lysosomal function in PD.

  • Differential effects of diet- and genetically-induced brain insulin resistance on amyloid pathology in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-04-12
    Tomoko Wakabayashi; Kazuki Yamaguchi; Kentaro Matsui; Toshiharu Sano; Tetsuya Kubota; Tadafumi Hashimoto; Ayako Mano; Kaoru Yamada; Yuko Matsuo; Naoto Kubota; Takashi Kadowaki; Takeshi Iwatsubo

    Based on epidemiological and experimental studies, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), especially insulin resistance that comprises the core mechanism of T2DM, has been recognized as a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Studies in humans and diabetic AD model mice have indicated a correlation between insulin resistance and increased amyloid deposition in the brain. Paradoxically, mice with targeted disruption of genes involved in the insulin signaling pathway showed protective effects against the AD-related pathology. These conflicting observations raise an issue as to the relationship between dysregulation of insulin signaling and AD pathophysiology. To study the causal relations and molecular mechanisms underlying insulin resistance-induced exacerbation of amyloid pathology, we investigated the chronological changes in the development of insulin resistance and amyloid pathology in two independent insulin-resistant AD mouse models, i.e., long-term high-fat diet (HFD) feeding and genetic disruption of Irs2, in combination with dietary interventions. In addition to biochemical and histopathological analyses, we examined the in vivo dynamics of brain amyloid-β (Aβ) and insulin by microdialysis technique. HFD-fed diabetic AD model mice displayed a reduced brain response to peripheral insulin stimulation and a decreased brain to plasma ratio of insulin during the hyperinsulinemic clamp. Diet-induced defective insulin action in the brain was accompanied by a decreased clearance of the extracellular Aβ in vivo and an exacerbation of brain amyloid pathology. These noxious effects of the HFD both on insulin sensitivity and on Aβ deposition in brains were reversibly attenuated by dietary interventions. Importantly, HFD feeding accelerated Aβ deposition also in the brains of IRS-2-deficient AD mice. Our results suggested a causal and reversible association of brain Aβ metabolism and amyloid pathology by diet-dependent, but not genetically-induced, insulin-resistance. These observations raise the possibility that the causal factors of insulin resistance, e.g., metabolic stress or inflammation induced by HFD feeding, but not impaired insulin signaling per se, might be directly involved in the acceleration of amyloid pathology in the brain.

  • A CRISPR monkey model unravels a unique function of PINK1 in primate brains
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-05-02
    Weili Yang; Shihua Li; Xiao-Jiang Li

    Genetically modified rodent models have been valuable for investigating the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). Based on the fact that mutations in the PINK1 gene cause autosomal recessive juvenile parkinsonism, a number of mouse models with deletion of the PINK1 gene were generated. However, these PINK1 knockout mouse models fail to recapitulate the selective and overt neurodegeneration seen in PD patient brains. Recently, we generated a non-human primate model with PINK1 deletion using CRISPR/Cas9. This monkey model shows robust neurodegeneration in various brain regions, different from late-onset neurodegeneration in PD patients. Because of the limited pathological data available from humans carrying PINK1 mutations, the PINK1 mutant monkeys provide us with an important animal model to discuss the unique function of PINK1 that is essential for neuronal survival in primate brains. We also propose that the impairment of this unique function by PINK1 mutations in humans may account for the age-dependent and progressive neurodegeneration.

  • TREM2 brain transcript-specific studies in AD and TREM2 mutation carriers
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-05-08
    Jorge L. Del-Aguila; Bruno A. Benitez; Zeran Li; Umber Dube; Kathie A. Mihindukulasuriya; John P. Budde; Fabiana H. G. Farias; Maria Victoria Fernández; Laura Ibanez; Shan Jiang; Richard J. Perrin; Nigel J. Cairns; John C. Morris; Oscar Harari; Carlos Cruchaga

    Low frequency coding variants in TREM2 are associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) risk and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) TREM2 protein levels are different between AD cases and controls. Similarly, TREM2 risk variant carriers also exhibit differential CSF TREM2 levels. TREM2 has three different alternative transcripts, but most of the functional studies only model the longest transcript. No studies have analyzed TREM2 expression levels or alternative splicing in brains from AD and cognitively normal individuals. We wanted to determine whether there was differential expression of TREM2 in sporadic-AD cases versus AD-TREM2 carriers vs sex- and aged-matched normal controls; and if this differential expression was due to a particular TREM2 transcript. We analyzed RNA-Seq data from parietal lobe brain tissue from AD cases with TREM2 variants (n = 33), AD cases (n = 195) and healthy controls (n = 118), from three independent datasets using Kallisto and the R package tximport to determine the read count for each transcript and quantified transcript abundance as transcripts per million. The three TREM2 transcripts were expressed in brain cortex in the three datasets. We demonstrate for the first time that the transcript that lacks the transmembrane domain and encodes a soluble form of TREM2 (sTREM2) has an expression level around 60% of the canonical transcript, suggesting that around 25% of the sTREM2 protein levels could be explained by this transcript. We did not observe a difference in the overall TREM2 expression level between cases and controls. However, the isoform which lacks the 5′ exon, but includes the transmembrane domain, was significantly lower in TREM2- p.R62H carriers than in AD cases (p = 0.007). Using bulk RNA-Seq data from three different cohorts, we were able to quantify the expression level of the three TREM2 transcripts, demonstrating: (1) all three transcripts of them are highly expressed in the human cortex, (2) that up to 25% of the sTREM2 may be due to the expression of a specific isoform and not TREM2 cleavage; and (3) that TREM2 risk variants do not affect expression levels, suggesting that the effect of the TREM2 variants on CSF levels occurs at post-transcriptional level.

  • The role of neurofilament aggregation in neurodegeneration: lessons from rare inherited neurological disorders
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-05-16
    Alessandro Didonna; Puneet Opal

    Many neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, are well known to involve the accumulation of disease-specific proteins. Less well known are the accumulations of another set of proteins, neuronal intermediate filaments (NFs), which have been observed in these diseases for decades. NFs belong to the family of cytoskeletal intermediate filament proteins (IFs) that give cells their shape; they determine axonal caliber, which controls signal conduction; and they regulate the transport of synaptic vesicles and modulate synaptic plasticity by binding to neurotransmitter receptors. In the last two decades, a number of rare disorders caused by mutations in genes that encode NFs or regulate their metabolism have been discovered. These less prevalent disorders are providing novel insights into the role of NF aggregation in the more common neurological disorders.

  • Endo-lysosomal dysregulations and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease: impact of genetic risk factors
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-06-03
    Zoë P. Van Acker; Marine Bretou; Wim Annaert

    Increasing evidence supports that cellular dysregulations in the degradative routes contribute to the initiation and progression of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Autophagy and endolysosomal homeostasis need to be maintained throughout life as they are major cellular mechanisms involved in both the production of toxic amyloid peptides and the clearance of misfolded or aggregated proteins. As such, alterations in endolysosomal and autophagic flux, as a measure of degradation activity in these routes or compartments, may directly impact as well on disease-related mechanisms such as amyloid-β clearance through the blood-brain-barrier and the interneuronal spreading of amyloid-β and/or Tau seeds, affecting synaptic function, plasticity and metabolism. The emerging of several genetic risk factors for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease that are functionally related to endocytic transport regulation, including cholesterol metabolism and clearance, supports the notion that in particular the autophagy/lysosomal flux might become more vulnerable during ageing thereby contributing to disease onset. In this review we discuss our current knowledge of the risk genes APOE4, BIN1, CD2AP, PICALM, PLD3 and TREM2 and their impact on endolysosomal (dys)regulations in the light of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

  • Neuroimaging Biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-06-07
    Freddie Márquez; Michael A. Yassa

    Currently, over five million Americans suffer with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In the absence of a cure, this number could increase to 13.8 million by 2050. A critical goal of biomedical research is to establish indicators of AD during the preclinical stage (i.e. biomarkers) allowing for early diagnosis and intervention. Numerous advances have been made in developing biomarkers for AD using neuroimaging approaches. These approaches offer tremendous versatility in terms of targeting distinct age-related and pathophysiological mechanisms such as structural decline (e.g. volumetry, cortical thinning), functional decline (e.g. fMRI activity, network correlations), connectivity decline (e.g. diffusion anisotropy), and pathological aggregates (e.g. amyloid and tau PET). In this review, we survey the state of the literature on neuroimaging approaches to developing novel biomarkers for the amnestic form of AD, with an emphasis on combining approaches into multimodal biomarkers. We also discuss emerging methods including imaging epigenetics, neuroinflammation, and synaptic integrity using PET tracers. Finally, we review the complementary information that neuroimaging biomarkers provide, which highlights the potential utility of composite biomarkers as suitable outcome measures for proof-of-concept clinical trials with experimental therapeutics.

  • Neuronally derived extracellular vesicles: an emerging tool for understanding Alzheimer’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-06-10
    Luke S. Watson; Eric D. Hamlett; Tyler D. Stone; Catrina Sims-Robinson

    In order for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) to manifest, cells must communicate “pathogenic material” such as proteins, signaling molecules, or genetic material to ensue disease propagation. Small extracellular vesicles are produced via the endocytic pathways and released by nearly all cell types, including neurons. Due to their intrinsic interrelationship with endocytic processes and autophagy, there has been increased interest in studying the role of these neuronally-derived extracellular vesicles (NDEVs) in the propagation of AD. Pathologic cargo associated with AD have been found in a number of studies, and NDEVs have been shown to induce pathogenesis in vivo and in vitro. Exogenous NDEVs are also shown to reduce plaque burden in AD models. Thus, the NDEV has the potential to become a useful biomarker, a pathologic potentiator, and a therapeutic opportunity. While the field of NDEV research in AD is still in its infancy, we review the current literature supporting these three claims.

  • α-synuclein in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-06-11
    Daniel Twohig; Henrietta M. Nielsen

    The Alzheimer’s disease (AD) afflicted brain is neuropathologically defined by extracellular amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles composed of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. However, accumulating evidence suggests that the presynaptic protein α-synuclein (αSyn), mainly associated with synucleinopathies like Parkinson’s disease (PD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and multiple system atrophy (MSA), is involved in the pathophysiology of AD. Lewy-related pathology (LRP), primarily comprised of αSyn, is present in a majority of autopsied AD brains, and higher levels of αSyn in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD have been linked to cognitive decline. Recent studies also suggest that the asymptomatic accumulation of Aβ plaques is associated with higher CSF αSyn levels in subjects at risk of sporadic AD and in individuals carrying autosomal dominant AD mutations. Experimental evidence has further linked αSyn mainly to tau hyperphosphorylation, but also to the pathological actions of Aβ and the APOEε4 allele, the latter being a major genetic risk factor for both AD and DLB. In this review, we provide a summary of the current evidence proposing an involvement of αSyn either as an active or passive player in the pathophysiological ensemble of AD, and furthermore describe in detail the current knowledge of αSyn structure and inferred function.

  • Apolipoprotein E4, inhibitory network dysfunction, and Alzheimer’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-06-11
    Ramsey Najm; Emily A. Jones; Yadong Huang

    Apolipoprotein (apo) E4 is the major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), increasing risk and decreasing age of disease onset. Many studies have demonstrated the detrimental effects of apoE4 in varying cellular contexts. However, the underlying mechanisms explaining how apoE4 leads to cognitive decline are not fully understood. Recently, the combination of human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) modeling of neurological diseases in vitro and electrophysiological studies in vivo have begun to unravel the intersection between apoE4, neuronal subtype dysfunction or loss, subsequent network deficits, and eventual cognitive decline. In this review, we provide an overview of the literature describing apoE4’s detrimental effects in the central nervous system (CNS), specifically focusing on its contribution to neuronal subtype dysfunction or loss. We focus on γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-expressing interneurons in the hippocampus, which are selectively vulnerable to apoE4-mediated neurotoxicity. Additionally, we discuss the importance of the GABAergic inhibitory network to proper cognitive function and how dysfunction of this network manifests in AD. Finally, we examine how apoE4-mediated GABAergic interneuron loss can lead to inhibitory network deficits and how this deficit results in cognitive decline. We propose the following working model: Aging and/or stress induces neuronal expression of apoE. GABAergic interneurons are selectively vulnerable to intracellularly produced apoE4, through a tau dependent mechanism, which leads to their dysfunction and eventual death. In turn, GABAergic interneuron loss causes hyperexcitability and dysregulation of neural networks in the hippocampus and cortex. This dysfunction results in learning, memory, and other cognitive deficits that are the central features of AD.

  • Hippocampal stem cells promotes synaptic resistance to the dysfunctional impact of amyloid beta oligomers via secreted exosomes
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-06-14
    Maria-Adelaide Micci; Balaji Krishnan; Elizabeth Bishop; Wen-Ru Zhang; Jutatip Guptarak; Auston Grant; Olga Zolochevska; Batbayar Tumurbaatar; Whitney Franklin; Claudia Marino; Steven G. Widen; Arjun Luthra; Steven G. Kernie; Giulio Taglialatela

    Adult hippocampal neurogenesis plays an important role in synaptic plasticity and cogntive function. We reported that higher numbers of neural stem cells (NSC) in the hippocampus of cognitively-intact individuals with high Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology (plaques and tangles) is associated with decreased synaptic amyloid beta oligomers (Aβο), an event linked to onset of dementia in AD. While these findings suggest a link between NSC and synaptic resistance to Aβο, the involved mechanism remains to be determined. With this goal in mind, here we investigated the ability of exosomes secreted from hippocampal NSC to promote synaptic resilience to Aβo. Exosomes isolated from media of hippocampus NSC (NSC-exo) or mature hippocampal neuronal (MN-exo) cultures were delivered intracerebroventricularly (ICV) to mice before assessment of Aβο-induced suppression of hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) and memory deficits. Aβο binding to synapses was assessed in cultured hippocampal neurons and on synaptosomes isolated from hippocampal slices from wild type mice and from an inducible mouse model of NSC ablation (Nestin-δ-HSV-TK mice) treated with exosomes. Expression of CaMKII and of AMPA and NMDA glutamate receptor subunits in synaptosomes was measured by western blot. Small RNA Deep sequencing was performed to identify microRNAs enriched in NSC-exo as compared to MN-exo. Mimics of select miRNAs were injected ICV. NSC-exo, but not MN-exo, abolished Aβo-induced suppression of LTP and subsequent memory deficits. Furthermore, in hippocampal slices and cultured neurons, NSC-exo significantly decreased Aβo binding to the synapse. Similarly, transgenic ablation of endogenous NSC increased synaptic Aβo binding, which was reversed by exogenous NSC-exo. Phosphorylation of synaptic CaMKII was increased by NSC-exo, while AMPA and NMDA receptors were not affected. Lastly, we identified a set of miRNAs enriched in NSC-exo that, when injected ICV, protected the synapses from Aβo-binding and Aβo-induced LTP inhibition. These results identify a novel mechanism linking NSC-exo and synaptic susceptibility to Aβo that may underscore cognitive resilience of certain individuals with increased neurogenesis in spite of AD neuropathology and unmask a novel target for the development of a new treatment concept for AD centered on promoting synaptic resilience to toxic amyloid proteins.

  • Synaptic and memory dysfunction induced by tau oligomers is rescued by up-regulation of the nitric oxide cascade
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-06-27
    Erica Acquarone; Elentina K. Argyrousi; Manon van den Berg; Walter Gulisano; Mauro Fà; Agnieszka Staniszewski; Elisa Calcagno; Elisa Zuccarello; Luciano D’Adamio; Shi-Xian Deng; Daniela Puzzo; Ottavio Arancio; Jole Fiorito

    Soluble aggregates of oligomeric forms of tau protein (oTau) have been associated with impairment of synaptic plasticity and memory in Alzheimer’s disease. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the synaptic and memory dysfunction induced by elevation of oTau are still unknown. This work used a combination of biochemical, electrophysiological and behavioral techniques. Biochemical methods included analysis of phosphorylation of the cAMP-responsive element binding (CREB) protein, a transcriptional factor involved in memory, histone acetylation, and expression immediate early genes c-Fos and Arc. Electrophysiological methods included assessment of long-term potentiation (LTP), a type of synaptic plasticity thought to underlie memory formation. Behavioral studies investigated both short-term spatial memory and associative memory. These phenomena were examined following oTau elevation. Levels of phospho-CREB, histone 3 acetylation at lysine 27, and immediate early genes c-Fos and Arc, were found to be reduced after oTau elevation during memory formation. These findings led us to explore whether up-regulation of various components of the nitric oxide (NO) signaling pathway impinging onto CREB is capable of rescuing oTau-induced impairment of plasticity, memory, and CREB phosphorylation. The increase of NO levels protected against oTau-induced impairment of LTP through activation of soluble guanylyl cyclase. Similarly, the elevation of cGMP levels and stimulation of the cGMP-dependent protein kinases (PKG) re-established normal LTP after exposure to oTau. Pharmacological inhibition of cGMP degradation through inhibition of phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5), rescued oTau-induced LTP reduction. These findings could be extrapolated to memory because PKG activation and PDE5 inhibition rescued oTau-induced memory impairment. Finally, PDE5 inhibition re-established normal elevation of CREB phosphorylation and cGMP levels after memory induction in the presence of oTau. Up-regulation of CREB activation through agents acting on the NO cascade might be beneficial against tau-induced synaptic and memory dysfunctions.

  • Dynactin1 depletion leads to neuromuscular synapse instability and functional abnormalities
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-07-10
    Valérie Bercier; Jeffrey M. Hubbard; Kevin Fidelin; Karine Duroure; Thomas O. Auer; Céline Revenu; Claire Wyart; Filippo Del Bene

    Dynactin subunit 1 is the largest subunit of the dynactin complex, an activator of the molecular motor protein complex dynein. Reduced levels of DCTN1 mRNA and protein have been found in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients, and mutations have been associated with disease, but the role of this protein in disease pathogenesis is still unknown. We characterized a Dynactin1a depletion model in the zebrafish embryo and combined in vivo molecular analysis of primary motor neuron development with live in vivo axonal transport assays in single cells to investigate ALS-related defects. To probe neuromuscular junction (NMJ) function and organization we performed paired motor neuron-muscle electrophysiological recordings and GCaMP calcium imaging in live, intact larvae, and the synapse structure was investigated by electron microscopy. Here we show that Dynactin1a depletion is sufficient to induce defects in the development of spinal cord motor neurons and in the function of the NMJ. We observe synapse instability, impaired growth of primary motor neurons, and higher failure rates of action potentials at the NMJ. In addition, the embryos display locomotion defects consistent with NMJ dysfunction. Rescue of the observed phenotype by overexpression of wild-type human DCTN1-GFP indicates a cell-autonomous mechanism. Synaptic accumulation of DCTN1-GFP, as well as ultrastructural analysis of NMJ synapses exhibiting wider synaptic clefts, support a local role for Dynactin1a in synaptic function. Furthermore, live in vivo analysis of axonal transport and cytoskeleton dynamics in primary motor neurons show that the phenotype reported here is independent of modulation of these processes. Our study reveals a novel role for Dynactin1 in ALS pathogenesis, where it acts cell-autonomously to promote motor neuron synapse stability independently of dynein-mediated axonal transport.

  • Pineal gland dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease: relationship with the immune-pineal axis, sleep disturbance, and neurogenesis
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-07-11
    Juhyun Song

    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a globally common neurodegenerative disease, which is accompanied by alterations to various lifestyle patterns, such as sleep disturbance. The pineal gland is the primary endocrine organ that secretes hormones, such as melatonin, and controls the circadian rhythms. The decrease in pineal gland volume and pineal calcification leads to the reduction of melatonin production. Melatonin has been reported to have multiple roles in the central nervous system (CNS), including improving neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity, suppressing neuroinflammation, enhancing memory function, and protecting against oxidative stress. Recently, reduced pineal gland volume and pineal calcification, accompanied by cognitive decline and sleep disturbances have been observed in AD patients. Here, I review current significant evidence of the contribution of pineal dysfunction in AD to the progress of AD neuropathology. I suggest new insights to understanding the relationship between AD pathogenesis and pineal gland function.

  • Alpha-synuclein structure and Parkinson’s disease – lessons and emerging principles
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-07-22
    Richard M. Meade; David P. Fairlie; Jody M. Mason

    Alpha-synuclein (αS) is the major constituent of Lewy bodies and a pathogenic hallmark of all synucleinopathathies, including Parkinson’s disease (PD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and multiple system atrophy (MSA). All diseases are determined by αS aggregate deposition but can be separated into distinct pathological phenotypes and diagnostic criteria. Here we attempt to reinterpret the literature, particularly in terms of how αS structure may relate to pathology. We do so in the context of a rapidly evolving field, taking into account newly revealed structural information on both native and pathogenic forms of the αS protein, including recent solid state NMR and cryoEM fibril structures. We discuss how these new findings impact on current understanding of αS and PD, and where this information may direct the field.

  • Correction to: Inoculation of α-synuclein preformed fibrils into the mouse gastrointestinal tract induces Lewy body-like aggregates in the brainstem via the vagus nerve
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-07-26
    Norihito Uemura; Hisashi Yagi; Maiko T. Uemura; Yusuke Hatanaka; Hodaka Yamakado; Ryosuke Takahashi

    The original article [1] mistakenly omitted essential information regarding Fig. 1c; thus, the authors would like to note that Fig. 1c describes transmission electron microscopy of α-Syn PFFs before sonication.

  • The neuropathological diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-08-02
    Michael A. DeTure; Dennis W. Dickson

    Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease most often associated with memory deficits and cognitive decline, although less common clinical presentations are increasingly recognized. The cardinal pathological features of the disease have been known for more than one hundred years, and today the presence of these amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are still required for a pathological diagnosis. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia globally. There remain no effective treatment options for the great majority of patients, and the primary causes of the disease are unknown except in a small number of familial cases driven by genetic mutations. Confounding efforts to develop effective diagnostic tools and disease-modifying therapies is the realization that Alzheimer’s disease is a mixed proteinopathy (amyloid and tau) frequently associated with other age-related processes such as cerebrovascular disease and Lewy body disease. Defining the relationships between and interdependence of various co-pathologies remains an active area of investigation. This review outlines etiologically-linked pathologic features of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as those that are inevitable findings of uncertain significance, such as granulovacuolar degeneration and Hirano bodies. Other disease processes that are frequent, but not inevitable, are also discussed, including pathologic processes that can clinically mimic Alzheimer’s disease. These include cerebrovascular disease, Lewy body disease, TDP-43 proteinopathies and argyrophilic grain disease. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of Alzheimer’s disease pathology, its defining pathologic substrates and the related pathologies that can affect diagnosis and treatment.

  • 更新日期:2019-11-28
  • A circuit view of deep brain stimulation in Alzheimer’s disease and the possible mechanisms
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-08-08
    Danfang Yu; Huanhuan Yan; Jun Zhou; Xiaodan Yang; Youming Lu; Yunyun Han

    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by chronic progressive cognitive deterioration frequently accompanied by psychopathological symptoms, including changes in personality and social isolation, which severely reduce quality of life. Currently, no viable therapies or present-day drugs developed for the treatment of AD symptoms are able to slow or reverse AD progression or prevent the advance of neurodegeneration. As such, non-drug alternatives are currently being tested, including deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS is an established therapy for several neurological and psychiatric indications, such as movement disorders. Studies assessing DBS for other disorders have also found improvements in cognitive function, providing the impetus for clinical trials on DBS for AD. Targets of DBS in AD clinical trials and animal model studies include the fornix, entorhinal cortex (EC), nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM), and vertical limb of diagonal band (VDB). However, there is still no comprehensive theory explaining the effects of DBS on AD symptoms or a consensus on which targets provide optimal benefits. This article reviews the anatomy of memory circuits related to AD, as well as studies on DBS rescue of AD in these circuits and the possible therapeutic mechanisms.

  • Microglia affect α-synuclein cell-to-cell transfer in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-08-16
    Sonia George; Nolwen L. Rey; Trevor Tyson; Corinne Esquibel; Lindsay Meyerdirk; Emily Schulz; Steven Pierce; Amanda R. Burmeister; Zachary Madaj; Jennifer A. Steiner; Martha L. Escobar Galvis; Lena Brundin; Patrik Brundin

    Cell-to-cell propagation of α-synuclein (α-syn) aggregates is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and underlie the spread of α-syn neuropathology. Increased pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and activated microglia are present in PD and activated microglia can promote α-syn aggregation. However, it is unclear how microglia influence α-syn cell-to-cell transfer. We developed a clinically relevant mouse model to monitor α-syn prion-like propagation between cells; we transplanted wild-type mouse embryonic midbrain neurons into a mouse striatum overexpressing human α-syn (huα-syn) following adeno-associated viral injection into the substantia nigra. In this system, we depleted or activated microglial cells and determined the effects on the transfer of huα-syn from host nigrostriatal neurons into the implanted dopaminergic neurons, using the presence of huα-syn within the grafted cells as a readout. First, we compared α-syn cell-to-cell transfer between host mice with a normal number of microglia to mice in which we had pharmacologically ablated 80% of the microglia from the grafted striatum. With fewer host microglia, we observed increased accumulation of huα-syn in grafted dopaminergic neurons. Second, we assessed the transfer of α-syn into grafted neurons in the context of microglia activated by one of two stimuli, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or interleukin-4 (IL-4). LPS exposure led to a strong activation of microglial cells (as determined by microglia morphology, cytokine production and an upregulation in genes involved in the inflammatory response in the LPS-injected mice by RNA sequencing analysis). LPS-injected mice had significantly higher amounts of huα-syn in grafted neurons. In contrast, injection of IL-4 did not change the proportion of grafted dopamine neurons that contained huα-syn relative to controls. As expected, RNA sequencing analysis on striatal tissue revealed differential gene expression between LPS and IL-4-injected mice; with the genes upregulated in tissue from mice injected with LPS including several of those involved in an inflammatory response. The absence or the hyperstimulation of microglia affected α-syn transfer in the brain. Our results suggest that under resting, non-inflammatory conditions, microglia modulate the transfer of α-syn. Pharmacological regulation of neuroinflammation could represent a future avenue for limiting the spread of PD neuropathology.

  • Impaired dopamine metabolism in Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-08-20
    Anna Masato; Nicoletta Plotegher; Daniela Boassa; Luigi Bubacco

    A full understanding of Parkinson’s Disease etiopathogenesis and of the causes of the preferential vulnerability of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons is still an unsolved puzzle. A multiple-hit hypothesis has been proposed, which may explain the convergence of familial, environmental and idiopathic forms of the disease. Among the various determinants of the degeneration of the neurons in Substantia Nigra pars compacta, in this review we will focus on the endotoxicity associated to dopamine dyshomeostasis. In particular, we will discuss the relevance of the reactive dopamine metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde (DOPAL) in the catechol-induced neurotoxicity. Indeed, the synergy between the catechol and the aldehyde moieties of DOPAL exacerbates its reactivity, resulting in modification of functional protein residues, protein aggregation, oxidative stress and cell death. Interestingly, αSynuclein, whose altered proteostasis is a recurrent element in Parkinson’s Disease pathology, is considered a preferential target of DOPAL modification. DOPAL triggers αSynuclein oligomerization leading to synapse physiology impairment. Several factors can be responsible for DOPAL accumulation at the pre-synaptic terminals, i.e. dopamine leakage from synaptic vesicles, increased rate of dopamine conversion to DOPAL by upregulated monoamine oxidase and decreased DOPAL degradation by aldehyde dehydrogenases. Various studies report the decreased expression and activity of aldehyde dehydrogenases in parkinsonian brains, as well as genetic variants associated to increased risk in developing the pathology. Thus, we discuss how the deregulation of these enzymes might be considered a contributing element in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s Disease or a down-stream effect. Finally, we propose that a better understanding of the impaired dopamine metabolism in Parkinson’s Disease would allow a more refined patients stratification and the design of more targeted and successful therapeutic strategies.

  • Glucocerebrosidase and its relevance to Parkinson disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-08-29
    Jenny Do; Cindy McKinney; Pankaj Sharma; Ellen Sidransky

    Mutations in GBA1, the gene encoding the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase, are among the most common known genetic risk factors for the development of Parkinson disease and related synucleinopathies. A great deal is known about GBA1, as mutations in GBA1 are causal for the rare autosomal storage disorder Gaucher disease. Over the past decades, significant progress has been made in understanding the genetics and cell biology of glucocerebrosidase. A least 495 different mutations, found throughout the 11 exons of the gene are reported, including both common and rare variants. Mutations in GBA1 may lead to degradation of the protein, disruptions in lysosomal targeting and diminished performance of the enzyme in the lysosome. Gaucher disease is phenotypically diverse and has both neuronopathic and non-neuronopathic forms. Both patients with Gaucher disease and heterozygous carriers are at increased risk of developing Parkinson disease and Dementia with Lewy Bodies, although our understanding of the mechanism for this association remains incomplete. There appears to be an inverse relationship between glucocerebrosidase and α-synuclein levels, and even patients with sporadic Parkinson disease have decreased glucocerebrosidase. Glucocerebrosidase may interact with α-synuclein to maintain basic cellular functions, or impaired glucocerebrosidase could contribute to Parkinson pathogenesis by disrupting lysosomal homeostasis, enhancing endoplasmic reticulum stress or contributing to mitochondrial impairment. However, the majority of patients with GBA1 mutations never develop parkinsonism, so clearly other risk factors play a role. Treatments for Gaucher disease have been developed that increase visceral glucocerebrosidase levels and decrease lipid storage, although they have yet to properly address the neurological defects associated with impaired glucocerebrosidase. Mouse and induced pluripotent stem cell derived models have improved our understanding of glucocerebrosidase function and the consequences of its deficiency. These models have been used to test novel therapies including chaperone proteins, histone deacetylase inhibitors, and gene therapy approaches that enhance glucocerebrosidase levels and could prove efficacious in the treatment of forms of parkinsonism. Consequently, this rare monogenic disorder, Gaucher disease, provides unique insights directly applicable to our understanding and treatment of Parkinson disease, a common and complex neurodegenerative disorder.

  • Lack of hepatic apoE does not influence early Aβ deposition: observations from a new APOE knock-in model
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-10-17
    Tien-Phat V. Huynh; Chao Wang; Ainsley C. Tran; G. Travis Tabor; Thomas E. Mahan; Caroline M. Francis; Mary Beth Finn; Rebecca Spellman; Melissa Manis; Rudolph E. Tanzi; Jason D. Ulrich; David M. Holtzman

    The apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene is the strongest genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD). ApoE is produced by both astrocytes and microglia in the brain, whereas hepatocytes produce the majority of apoE found in the periphery. Studies using APOE knock-in and transgenic mice have demonstrated a strong isoform-dependent effect of apoE on the accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition in the brain in the form of both Aβ-containing amyloid plaques and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. However, the specific contributions of different apoE pools to AD pathogenesis remain unknown. We have begun to address these questions by generating new lines of APOE knock-in (APOE-KI) mice (ε2/ε2, ε3/ε3, and ε4/ε4) where the exons in the coding region of APOE are flanked by loxP sites, allowing for cell type-specific manipulation of gene expression. We assessed these mice both alone and after crossing them with mice with amyloid deposition in the brain. Using biochemical and histological methods. We also investigated how removal of APOE expression from hepatocytes affected cerebral amyloid deposition. As in other APOE knock-in mice, apoE protein was present predominantly in astrocytes in the brain under basal conditions and was also detected in reactive microglia surrounding amyloid plaques. Primary cultured astrocytes and microglia from the APOE-KI mice secreted apoE in lipoprotein particles of distinct size distribution upon native gel analysis with microglial particles being substantially smaller than the HDL-like particles secreted by astrocytes. Crossing of APP/PS1 transgenic mice to the different APOE-KI mice recapitulated the previously described isoform-specific effect (ε4 > ε3) on amyloid plaque and Aβ accumulation. Deletion of APOE in hepatocytes did not alter brain apoE levels but did lead to a marked decrease in plasma apoE levels and changes in plasma lipid profile. Despite these changes in peripheral apoE and on plasma lipids, cerebral accumulation of amyloid plaques in APP/PS1 mice was not affected. Altogether, these new knock-in strains offer a novel and dynamic tool to study the role of APOE in AD pathogenesis in a spatially and temporally controlled manner.

  • Targeting tauopathy with engineered tau-degrading intrabodies
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-10-22
    Gilbert Gallardo; Connie H. Wong; Sara M. Ricardez; Carolyn N. Mann; Kent H. Lin; Cheryl E. G. Leyns; Hong Jiang; David M. Holtzman

    The accumulation of pathological tau is the main component of neurofibrillary tangles and other tau aggregates in several neurodegenerative diseases, referred to as tauopathies. Recently, immunotherapeutic approaches targeting tau have been demonstrated to be beneficial in decreasing tauopathy in animal models. We previously found that passive immunotherapy with anti-tau antibody to human tau or expression of an anti-tau secreted single-chain variable fragment (scFv) in the central nervous system of a mouse model of tauopathy decreased but did not remove all tau-associated pathology. Although these and other studies demonstrate that conventional immunotherapeutic approaches targeting tau can influence tau pathogenesis, the majority of pathological tau remains in the cytosol of cells, not typically accessible to an extracellular antibody. Therefore, we reasoned targeting intracellular tau might be more efficacious in preventing or decreasing tauopathy. By utilizing our anti-tau scFv, we generated anti-tau intrabodies for the expression in the cytosol of neurons. To enhance the degradation capacity of conventional intrabodies, we engineered chimeric anti-tau intrabodies fused to ubiquitin harboring distinct mutations that shuttle intracellular tau for either the proteasome or lysosomal mediated degradation. To evaluate the efficacy in delaying or eliminating tauopathy, we expressed our tau degrading intrabodies or controls in human tau transgenic mice by adeno-associated virus prior to overt tau pathology and after tau deposition. Our results demonstrate, the expression of chimeric anti-tau intrabodies significantly reduce tau protein levels in primary neuronal cultures expression human tau relative to a non-modified anti-tau intrabody. We found the expression of engineered tau-degrading intrabodies destined for proteasomal-mediated degradation are more effective in delaying or eliminating tauopathy than a conventional intrabody in aged human tau transgenic mice. This study, harnesses the strength of intrabodies that are amendable for targeting specific domains or modifications with the cell-intrinsic mechanisms that regulate protein degradation providing a new immunotherapeutic approach with potentially improved efficacy.

  • Neurofilament light chain is a promising serum biomarker in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-11-04
    Quan-Fu Li; Yi Dong; Lu Yang; Juan-Juan Xie; Yin Ma; Yi-Chu Du; Hao-Ling Cheng; Wang Ni; Zhi-Ying Wu

    Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3) is the most common subtype of autosomal dominantly inherited spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs). No validated blood biomarker is available to assess either disease progression or therapeutic response. Neurofilament light chain (NfL) was recently proposed as a serum biomarker for many neurodegenerative disorders. The present study investigated whether NfL was a promising serum biomarker for SCA3. Seventeen SCA3 patients and 9 controls were enrolled in cohort A, and 116 SCA3 individuals (preclinical and patients) and 91 controls were recruited as cohort B. We assessed whether serum NfL correlated with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) NfL in cohort A and correlations between serum NfL levels and clinical features and brain volumes were determined in cohort B. The single-molecule array method was used to measure serum NfL levels. Disease severity was determined using the scale for the assessment and rating of ataxia (SARA) and the international cooperative ataxia rating scale (ICARS). Cerebellar and brainstem volumes were assessed using MRI neuroimaging measurements. Serum/CSF NfL levels in cohort A were elevated in SCA3 patients, and serum and CSF NfL exhibited a significant positive correlation (r = 0.9179, p < 0.0001). Levels of serum NfL in cohort B were significantly higher in preclinical SCA3 (15.03 ± 7.49 vs 6.88 ± 2.72 pg/ mL, p < 0.0001) and manifest SCA3 subjects (37.56 ± 13.47 vs 9.07 ± 6.02 pg/ mL, p < 0.0001) compared to those in controls. Serum NfL concentrations increased from early disease stage to the next stage. Levels of serum NfL in ATXN3 mutation carriers were positively associated with SARA (r = 0.5458, p < 0.0001) and ICARS scores (r = 0.5522, p < 0.0001). Significant negative associations with cerebellar volumes (r = − 0.4217, p = 0.0003) and brainstem volumes (r = − 0.4263, p = 0.0003) were observed. All changes remained significant after adjustment for age and CAG repeat. Levels of serum NfL were significantly elevated in SCA3 individuals and correlated with disease severity. Serum NfL is a promising serum biomarker of disease onset and progression, and a potential candidate biomarker of treatment response in SCA3.

  • Reduced sphingolipid hydrolase activities, substrate accumulation and ganglioside decline in Parkinson’s disease
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-11-08
    Mylene Huebecker; Elizabeth B. Moloney; Aarnoud C. van der Spoel; David A. Priestman; Ole Isacson; Penelope J. Hallett; Frances M. Platt

    Haploinsufficiency in the Gaucher disease GBA gene, which encodes the lysosomal glucocerebrosidase GBA, and ageing represent major risk factors for developing Parkinson’s disease (PD). Recently, more than fifty other lysosomal storage disorder gene variants have been identified in PD, implicating lysosomal dysfunction more broadly as a key risk factor for PD. Despite the evidence of multiple lysosomal genetic risks, it remains unclear how sphingolipid hydrolase activities, other than GBA, are altered with ageing or in PD. Moreover, it is not fully known if levels of glycosphingolipid substrates for these enzymes change in vulnerable brain regions of PD. Finally, little is known about the levels of complex gangliosides in substantia nigra which may play a significant role in ageing and PD. To study sphingolipid hydrolase activities and glycosphingolipid expression in ageing and in PD, two independent cohorts of human substantia nigra tissues were obtained. Fluorescent 4-methylumbelliferone assays were used to determine multiple enzyme activities. The lysosomal GBA and non-lysosomal GBA2 activities were distinguished using the inhibitor NB-DGJ. Sensitive and quantitative normal-phase HPLC was performed to study glycosphingolipid levels. In addition, glycosphingolipid levels in cerebrospinal fluid and serum were analysed as possible biomarkers for PD. The present study demonstrates, in two independent cohorts of human post-mortem substantia nigra, that sporadic PD is associated with deficiencies in multiple lysosomal hydrolases (e.g. α-galactosidase and β-hexosaminidase), in addition to reduced GBA and GBA2 activities and concomitant glycosphingolipid substrate accumulation. Furthermore, the data show significant reductions in levels of complex gangliosides (e.g. GM1a) in substantia nigra, CSF and serum in ageing, PD, and REM sleep behaviour disorder, which is a strong predictor of PD. These findings conclusively demonstrate reductions in GBA activity in the parkinsonian midbrain, and for the first time, reductions in the activity of several other sphingolipid hydrolases. Furthermore, significant reductions were seen in complex gangliosides in PD and ageing. The diminished activities of these lysosomal hydrolases, the glycosphingolipid substrate accumulation, and the reduced levels of complex gangliosides are likely major contributors to the primary development of the pathology seen in PD and related disorders with age.

  • Application of CRISPR genetic screens to investigate neurological diseases
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-11-14
    Raphaella W. L. So; Sai Wai Chung; Heather H. C. Lau; Jeremy J. Watts; Erin Gaudette; Zaid A. M. Al-Azzawi; Jossana Bishay; Lilian Tsai-Wei Lin; Julia Joung; Xinzhu Wang; Gerold Schmitt-Ulms

    The adoption of CRISPR-Cas9 technology for functional genetic screens has been a transformative advance. Due to its modular nature, this technology can be customized to address a myriad of questions. To date, pooled, genome-scale studies have uncovered genes responsible for survival, proliferation, drug resistance, viral susceptibility, and many other functions. The technology has even been applied to the functional interrogation of the non-coding genome. However, applications of this technology to neurological diseases remain scarce. This shortfall motivated the assembly of a review that will hopefully help researchers moving in this direction find their footing. The emphasis here will be on design considerations and concepts underlying this methodology. We will highlight groundbreaking studies in the CRISPR-Cas9 functional genetics field and discuss strengths and limitations of this technology for neurological disease applications. Finally, we will provide practical guidance on navigating the many choices that need to be made when implementing a CRISPR-Cas9 functional genetic screen for the study of neurological diseases.

  • Wild-type Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase is misfolded in cerebrospinal fluid of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
    Mol. Neurodegener. (IF 8.274) Pub Date : 2019-11-19
    Eiichi Tokuda; Yo-ichi Takei; Shinji Ohara; Noriko Fujiwara; Isao Hozumi; Yoshiaki Furukawa

    A subset of familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are caused by mutations in the gene coding Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1). Mutant SOD1 proteins are susceptible to misfolding and abnormally accumulated in spinal cord, which is most severely affected in ALS. It, however, remains quite controversial whether misfolding of wild-type SOD1 is involved in more prevalent sporadic ALS (sALS) cases without SOD1 mutations. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients including sALS as well as several other neurodegenerative diseases and non-neurodegenerative diseases was examined with an immunoprecipitation assay and a sandwich ELISA using antibodies specifically recognizing misfolded SOD1. We found that wild-type SOD1 was misfolded in CSF from all sALS cases examined in this study. The misfolded SOD1 was also detected in CSF from a subset of Parkinson’s disease and progressive supranuclear palsy, albeit with smaller amounts than those in sALS. Furthermore, the CSF samples containing the misfolded SOD1 exhibited significant toxicity toward motor neuron-like NSC-34 cells, which was ameliorated by removal of the misfolded wild-type SOD1 with immunoprecipitation. Taken together, we propose that misfolding of wild-type SOD1 in CSF is a common pathological process of ALS cases regardless of SOD1 mutations.

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上海纽约大学William Glover