Oxidative damage can lead to neuronal dysfunction in the brain due to modifications to proteins, lipids and DNA/RNA. In both human and canine brain, oxidative damage progressively increases with age. In the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brain, oxidative damage is further exacerbated, possibly due to increased deposition of beta-amyloid (Aβ) peptide in senile plaques. These observations have led to the hypothesis that antioxidants may be beneficial for brain aging and AD. Aged dogs naturally develop AD-like neuropathology (Aβ) and cognitive dysfunction and are a useful animal model in which to test antioxidants. In a longitudinal study of aging beagles, a diet rich in antioxidants improved cognition, maintained cognition and reduced oxidative damage and Aβ pathology in treated animals. These data suggest that antioxidants may be beneficial for human brain aging and for AD, particularly as a preventative intervention.
Alzheimer disease; beagle; beta-amyloid; cognition; dog; lipoic acid; vitamins
The aged dog naturally develops cognitive decline in many different domains (including learning and memory) but also exhibits human-like individual variability in the aging process. The neurobiological basis for cognitive dysfunction may be related to structural changes that reflect neurodegeneration. Molecular cascades that contribute to degeneration in the aging dog brain include the progressive accumulation of beta-amyloid (Aβ) in diffuse plaques and in the cerebral vasculature. In addition, neuronal dysfunction occurs as a consequence of mitochondrial dysfunction and cumulative oxidative damage. In combination, the aged dog captures key features of human aging, making them particularly useful for the development of preventive or therapeutic interventions to improve aged brain function. These interventions can then be translated into human clinical trials. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Animal Models of Disease.
Beagle; Beta-amyloid; Cognition; Mild cognitive impairment; Oxidative damage
Decline in cognitive functions that accompany aging in dogs may have a biological basis, and many of the disorders associated with aging in canines may be mitigated through dietary modifications that incorporate specific nutraceuticals. Based on previous research and the results of both laboratory and clinical studies – antioxidants may be one class of nutraceutical that provides benefits to aged dogs. Brains of aged dogs accumulate oxidative damage to proteins and lipids, which may lead to dysfunction of neuronal cells. The production of free radicals and lack of increase in compensatory antioxidant enzymes may lead to detrimental modifications to important macromolecules within neurons. Reducing oxidative damage through food ingredients rich in a broad spectrum of antioxidants significantly improves, or slows the decline of, learning and memory in aged dogs. However, determining all effective compounds and combinations, dosage ranges, as well as when to initiate intervention and long term effects constitute gaps in our current knowledge.
antioxidants; beta-amyloid; behavior; cognition; mitochondrial co-factors; oxidative damage
Aging and age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are usually accompanied by oxidative stress as one of the main mechanisms contributing to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. Aging canines develop cognitive dysfunction and neuropathology similar to those seen in humans, and the use of antioxidants results in reductions in oxidative damage and in improvement in cognitive function in this canine model of human aging. In the present study, the effect of a long-term treatment with an antioxidant fortified diet and a program of behavioral enrichment on oxidative damage was studied in aged canines. To identify the neurobiological mechanisms underlying these treatment effects, the parietal cortex from 23 beagle dogs (8.1-12.4 years) were treated for 2.8 years in one of four treatment groups: i.e., control food- control behavioral enrichment (CC); control food - behavioral enrichment (CE); antioxidant food-control behavioral enrichment (CA); and enriched environment - antioxidant fortified food (EA). We analyzed the levels of the oxidative stress biomarkers, i.e., protein carbonyls, 3-nitrotyroine (3NT), and the lipid peroxidation product, 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE), and observed a decrease in their levels on all treatments when compared to control, with the most significant effects found in the combined treatment, EA. Since EA treatment was most effective, we also carried out a comparative proteomics study to identify specific brain proteins that were differentially expressed and used a parallel redox proteomics approach to identify specific brain proteins that were less oxidized following EA. The specific protein carbonyl levels of glutamate dehydrogenase [NAD (P)], glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), α-enolase, neurofilament triplet L protein, glutathione S-transferase (GST) and fascin actin bundling protein were significantly reduced in brain of EA-treated dogs compared to control. We also observed significant increases in expression of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase, fructose-bisphosphate aldolase C, creatine kinase, glutamate dehydrogenase and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase. The increased expression of these proteins and in particular Cu/Zn SOD correlated with improved cognitive function. In addition, there was a significant increase in the enzymatic activities of glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and total superoxide dismutase (SOD), and significant increase in the protein levels of heme oxygenase (HO-1) in EA treated dogs compared to control. These findings suggest that the combined treatment reduces the levels of oxidative damage and improves the antioxidant reserve systems in the aging canine brain, and may contribute to improvements in learning and memory. These observations provide insights into a possible neurobiological mechanism underlying the effects of the combined treatment. These results support the combination treatments as a possible therapeutic approach that could be translated to the aging human population who are at risk for age-related neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Oxidative stress; Canine; Cognition; Antioxidants; Aging; Behavioral enrichment; β-Amyloid; Redox proteomics; Memory; Cognition; Proteomics
Dogs with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) accumulate amyloid beta (Aβ) in the brain. As the cognitive decline and neuropathology of these old dogs share features with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the relation between Aβ and cognitive decline in animal models of cognitive decline is of interest to the understanding of AD. However, the sensitivity of the biomarker Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) to the presence of Aβ in humans and in other mammalian species is in doubt. To test the sensitivity and assess the distribution of Aβ in dog brain, we mapped the brains of dogs with signs of CCD (n = 16) and a control group (n = 4) of healthy dogs with radioactively labeled PiB ([11C]PiB). Structural magnetic resonance imaging brain scans were obtained from each dog. Tracer washout analysis yielded parametric maps of PiB retention in brain. In the CCD group, dogs had significant retention of [11C]PiB in the cerebellum, compared to the cerebral cortex. Retention in the cerebellum is at variance with evidence from brains of humans with AD. To confirm the lack of sensitivity, we stained two dog brains with the immunohistochemical marker 6E10, which is sensitive to the presence of both Aβ and Aβ precursor protein (AβPP). The 6E10 stain revealed intracellular material positive for Aβ or AβPP, or both, in Purkinje cells. The brains of the two groups of dogs did not have significantly different patterns of [11C]PiB binding, suggesting that the material detected with 6E10 is AβPP rather than Aβ. As the comparison with the histological images revealed no correlation between the [11C]PiB and Aβ and AβPP deposits in post-mortem brain, the marked intracellular staining implies intracellular involvement of amyloid processing in the dog brain. We conclude that PET maps of [11C]PiB retention in brain of dogs with CCD fundamentally differ from the images obtained in most humans with AD.
canine cognitive dysfunction; Alzheimer’s disease; Pittsburgh compound B; beta-amyloid; dog; 6E10 immunohistochemistry
Vascular dysfunction has a critical role in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recent data from brain imaging studies in humans and animal models suggest that cerebrovascular dysfunction may precede cognitive decline and onset of neurodegenerative changes in AD and AD models. Cerebral hypoperfusion and impaired amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) clearance across the blood–brain barrier (BBB) may contribute to the onset and progression of dementia AD type. Decreased cerebral blood flow (CBF) negatively affects the synthesis of proteins required for memory and learning, and may eventually lead to neuritic injury and neuronal death. Impaired clearance of Aβ from the brain by the cells of the neurovascular unit may lead to its accumulation on blood vessels and in brain parenchyma. The accumulation of Aβ on the cerebral blood vessels, known as cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), is associated with cognitive decline and is one of the hallmarks of AD pathology. CAA can severely disrupt the integrity of the blood vessel wall resulting in micro or macro intracerebral bleedings that exacerbates neurodegenerative process and inflammatory response and may lead to hemorrhagic stroke, respectively.Here, we review the role of the neurovascular unit and molecular mechanisms in vascular cells behind AD and CAA pathogenesis. First, we discuss apparent vascular changes, including the cerebral hypoperfusion and vascular degeneration that contribute to different stages of the disease process in AD individuals. We next discuss the role of the low-density lipoprotein receptor related protein-1 (LRP), a key Aβ clearance receptor at the BBB and along the cerebrovascular system, whose expression is suppressed early in AD. We also discuss how brain-derived apolipoprotein E isoforms may influence Aβ clearance across the BBB. We then review the role of two interacting transcription factors, myocardin and serum response factor, in cerebral vascular cells in controlling CBF responses and LRP-mediated Aβ clearance. Finally, we discuss the role of microglia and perivascular macrophages in Aβ clearance from the brain. The data reviewed here support an essential role of neurovascular and BBB mechanisms in contributing to both, onset and progression of AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; Neurovascular; Blood–brain barrier; Aβ; Clearance
Neuron loss within the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex occurs as a function of age in humans. We first tested the hypothesis that neuron loss occurs in the aged dog. The total unilateral number of neurons in the canine entorhinal cortex and subdivisions of the hippocampus from the left hemisphere were estimated using the optical fractionator. The brains from 5 old (13.0 – 15.0 years old) and 5 young (3.4 – 4.5 years old) beagle dogs were analyzed. The hilus of the hippocampus showed a significant loss of neurons (~30%) in the aged dog brain compared to young. Differences were not detected in the remaining hippocampal subfields and entorhinal cortex. We further tested the hypothesis that an antioxidant fortified food or behavioral enrichment would reduce the age-related loss of hilar neurons. Behaviorally enriched aged dogs had more neurons in the hilus (~18%) compared to aged controls. These results suggest that the aged canine hippocampus in the left hemisphere shows selective neuron loss and that behavioral enrichment may reduce this loss.
dog; brain; aging; hippocampus; neuron loss; antioxidants; enrichment
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by cognitive impairment, progressive neurodegeneration and formation of amyloid-β (Aβ)-containing plaques and neurofibrillary tangles composed of hyperphosphorylated tau. The neurodegenerative process in AD is initially characterized by synaptic damage accompanied by neuronal loss. In addition, recent evidence suggests that alterations in adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus might play a role. Synaptic loss is one of the strongest correlates to the cognitive impairment in patients with AD. Several lines of investigation support the notion that the synaptic pathology and defective neurogenesis in AD are related to progressive accumulation of Aβ oligomers rather than fibrils. Abnormal accumulation of Aβ resulting in the formation of toxic oligomers is the result of an imbalance between the levels of Aβ production, aggregation and clearance. Aβ oligomers might lead to synaptic damage by forming pore-like structures with channel activity; alterations in glutamate receptors; circuitry hyper-excitability; mitochondrial dysfunction; lysosomal failure and alterations in signaling pathways related to synaptic plasticity, neuronal cell and neurogenesis. A number of signaling proteins, including fyn kinase; glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) and cyclin-dependent kinase-5 (CDK5), are involved in the neurodegenerative progression of AD. Therapies for AD might require the development of anti-aggregation compounds, pro-clearance pathways and blockers of hyperactive signaling pathways.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a major neurodegenerative disease affecting the elderly. Clinically, it is characterized by a progressive loss of memory and cognitive function. Neuropathologically, it is characterized by the presence of extracellular β-amyloid (Aβ) deposited as neuritic plaques (NP) and neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) made of abnormal and hyperphosphorylated tau protein. These lesions are capable of generating the neuronal damage that leads to cell death and cognitive failure through the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Evidence indicates the critical role of Aβ metabolism in prompting the oxidative stress observed in AD patients. However, it has also been proposed that oxidative damage precedes the onset of clinical and pathological AD symptoms, including amyloid-β deposition, neurofibrillary tangle formation, vascular malfunction, metabolic syndrome, and cognitive decline. This paper provides a brief description of the three main proteins associated with the development of the disease (Aβ, tau, and ApoE) and describes their role in the generation of oxidative stress. Finally, we describe the mitochondrial alterations that are generated by Aβ and examine the relationship of vascular damage which is a potential prognostic tool of metabolic syndrome. In addition, new therapeutic approaches targeting ROS sources and metabolic support were reported.
Mitochondria continuously undergo two opposing processes, fission and fusion. The disruption of this dynamic equilibrium may herald cell injury or death and may contribute to developmental and neurodegenerative disorders. Nitric oxide functions as a signaling molecule, but in excess it mediates neuronal injury, in part via mitochondrial fission or fragmentation. However, the underlying mechanism for nitric oxide–induced pathological fission remains unclear. We found that nitric oxide produced in response to β-amyloid protein, thought to be a key mediator of Alzheimer’s disease, triggered mitochondrial fission, synaptic loss, and neuronal damage, in part via S-nitrosylation of dynamin-related protein 1 (forming SNO-Drp1). Preventing nitrosylation of Drp1 by cysteine mutation abrogated these neurotoxic events. SNO-Drp1 is increased in brains of human Alzheimer’s disease patients and may thus contribute to the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) involves a complex pathological cascade thought to be initially triggered by the accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide aggregates or aberrant amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing. Much is known of the factors initiating the disease process decades prior to the onset of cognitive deficits, but an unclear understanding of events immediately preceding and precipitating cognitive decline is a major factor limiting the rapid development of adequate prevention and treatment strategies. Multiple pathways are known to contribute to cognitive deficits by disruption of neuronal signal transduction pathways involved in memory. These pathways are altered by aberrant signaling, inflammation, oxidative damage, tau pathology, neuron loss, and synapse loss. We need to develop stage-specific interventions that not only block causal events in pathogenesis (aberrant tau phosphorylation, Aβ production and accumulation, and oxidative damage), but also address damage from these pathways that will not be reversed by targeting prodromal pathways. This approach would not only focus on blocking early events in pathogenesis, but also adequately correct for loss of synapses, substrates for neuroprotective pathways (e.g., docosahexaenoic acid), defects in energy metabolism, and adverse consequences of inappropriate compensatory responses (aberrant sprouting). Monotherapy targeting early single steps in this complicated cascade may explain disappointments in trials with agents inhibiting production, clearance, or aggregation of the initiating Aβ peptide or its aggregates. Both plaque and tangle pathogenesis have already reached AD levels in the more vulnerable brain regions during the “prodromal” period prior to conversion to “mild cognitive impairment (MCI).” Furthermore, many of the pathological events are no longer proceeding in series, but are going on in parallel. By the MCI stage, we stand a greater chance of success by considering pleiotropic drugs or cocktails that can independently limit the parallel steps of the AD cascade at all stages, but that do not completely inhibit the constitutive normal functions of these pathways. Based on this hypothesis, efforts in our laboratories have focused on the pleiotropic activities of omega-3 fatty acids and the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-amyloid activity of curcumin in multiple models that cover many steps of the AD pathogenic cascade (Cole and Frautschy, Alzheimers Dement 2:284–286, 2006).
Antioxidants; Curcumin; Inflammation; Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; Tau; Tau kinases; β-Amyloid
The present review focuses on the utility of a canine model in evaluating nutritional interventions for age-related cognitive dysfunction. Aged dogs demonstrate progressive cognitive decline with concurrent amyloid-beta pathology that parallels the pathology observed in aging humans. Dogs, therefore, provide a natural model of human pathological aging. We have and are in the process of evaluating several nutritional-based interventions aimed at preventing cognitive decline and brain aging. In a three-year longitudinal study, we examined the effects of a diet enriched with antioxidants and mitochondrial cofactors on several measures of cognition and brain aging. Compared to controls, aged dogs on the enriched diet demonstrated both short- and long-term cognitive benefits, as well decreased deposition of amyloid-beta protein. The diet also reduced behavioral signs associated with canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome when assessed in veterinary clinical trials. We also have preliminary evidence suggesting a beneficial effect of a proprietary blend of docosahexaenoic acid and phospholipids on both cognitive and physiological measures. Collectively, our data indicate (1) that the dog, either in the laboratory or in the clinic, provides an important tool for assessing nutritional interventions and (2) that combination interventions aimed at several mechanisms of pathological aging may prove more effective than single nutritive components in human trials.
aging; Alzheimer’s disease; antioxidants; brain pathology; canine model; cognitive dysfunction; docosahexaenoic acid; mitochondrial cofactors; nutritional interventions; phospholipids
Aged dogs spontaneously develop many features of human aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) including cognitive decline and neuropathology. In this review, we discuss age-dependent learning tasks, memory tasks, and functional measures that can be used in aged dogs for sensitive treatment outcome measures. Neuropathology that is linked to cognitive decline is described along with examples of treatment studies that show reduced neuropathology in aging dogs (dietary manipulations, behavioral enrichment, immunotherapy, and statins). Studies in canine show that multi-targeted approaches may be more beneficial than single pathway manipulations (e.g., antioxidants combined with behavioral enrichment). Aging canine studies show good predictive validity for human clinical trials outcomes (e.g., immunotherapy) and several interventions tested in dogs strongly support a prevention approach (e.g., immunotherapy and statins). Further, dogs are ideally suited for prevention studies as they the age because onset of cognitive decline and neuropathology strongly support longitudinal interventions that can be completed within a 3–5 year period. Disadvantages to using the canine model are that they lengthy, use labor-intensive comprehensive cognitive testing, and involve costly housing (almost as high as that of non-human primates). However, overall, using the dog as a preclinical model for testing preventive approaches for AD may complement work in rodents and non-human primates.
antioxidant diet; atorvastatin; behavioral enrichment; beta-amyloid; combination treatment; dog; immunotherapy; statin
Accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, inflammation and synaptic and neuronal loss are some of the major neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). While genetic mutations in amyloid precursor protein and presenilin-1 and -2 (PS1 and PS2) genes cause early-onset familial AD, the etiology of sporadic AD is not fully understood. Our current study shows that changes in conformation of endogenous wild type PS1, similar to those found with mutant PS1, occur in sporadic AD brain and during normal aging. Using a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease (Tg2576) that overexpresses the Swedish mutation of amyloid precursor protein but has normal levels of endogenous wild-type presenilin, we report that the percentage of PS1 in a pathogenic conformation increases with age. Importantly, we found that this PS1 conformational shift is associated with amyloid pathology and precedes amyloid-β deposition in the brain. Furthermore, we found that oxidative stress, a common stress characteristic of aging and AD, causes pathogenic PS1 conformational change in neurons in vitro, which is accompanied by increased A 42/40 ratio. The results of this study provide important information about the timeline of pathogenic changes in PS1 conformation during aging, and suggest that structural changes in PS1/-secretase may represent a molecular mechanism by which oxidative stress triggers amyloid-β accumulation in aging and in sporadic AD brain.
Alzheimer’s disease; aging; presenilin-1; amyloid beta; oxidative stress
Morphological alterations of mitochondria may play an important role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, been associated with oxidative stress and Aβ-peptide-induced toxicity. We proceeded to estimation of mitochondria on electron micrographs of autopsy specimens of Alzheimer's disease. We found substantial morphological and morphometric changes of the mitochondria in the neurons of the hippocampus, the neocortex, the cerebellar cortex, the thalamus, the globus pallidus, the red nucleus, the locus coeruleus, and the climbing fibers. The alterations consisted of considerable changes of the cristae, accumulation of osmiophilic material, and modification of the shape and size. Mitochondrial alterations were prominent in neurons, which showed a depletion of dendritic spines and loss of dendritic branches. Mitochondrial alterations are not related with the accumulation of amyloid deposits, but are prominent whenever fragmentation of the Golgi apparatus exists. Morphometric analysis showed also that mitochondria are significantly reduced in neurons, which demonstrated synaptic pathology.
Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) and their receptor (RAGE) occur in dementia of the Alzheimer's type and diabetic microvascular disease. Accumulation of AGEs relates to risk factors for vascular dementia with ageing, including hypertension and diabetes. Cognitive dysfunction in vascular dementia may relate to microvascular disease resembling that in diabetes. We tested if, among people with cerebrovascular disease, (1) those with dementia have higher levels of neuronal and vascular AGEs and (2) if cognitive dysfunction depends on neuronal and/or vascular AGE levels.
Brain Sections from 25 cases of the OPTIMA (Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing) cohort, with varying degrees of cerebrovascular pathology and cognitive dysfunction (but only minimal Alzheimer type pathology) were immunostained for Nε-(carboxymethyl)-lysine (CML), the most abundant AGE. The level of staining in vessels and neurons in the cortex, white matter and basal ganglia was compared to neuropsychological and other clinical measures.
The probability of cortical neurons staining positive for CML was higher in cases with worse cognition (p = 0.01) or a history of hypertension (p = 0.028). Additionally, vascular CML staining related to cognitive impairment (p = 0.02) and a history of diabetes (p = 0.007). Neuronal CML staining in the basal ganglia related to a history of hypertension (p = 0.002).
CML staining in cortical neurons and cerebral vessels is related to the severity of cognitive impairment in people with cerebrovascular disease and only minimal Alzheimer pathology. These findings support the possibility that cerebral accumulation of AGEs may contribute to dementia in people with cerebrovascular disease.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a debilitating age related progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the loss of cognition, and eventual death of the affected individual. One of the major causes of AD is the accumulation of Amyloid-beta 42 (Aβ42) polypeptides formed by the improper cleavage of amyloid precursor protein (APP) in the brain. These plaques disrupt normal cellular processes through oxidative stress and aberrant signaling resulting in the loss of synaptic activity and death of the neurons. However, the detailed genetic mechanism(s) responsible for this neurodegeneration still remain elusive.
Methodology/ Principle Findings
We have generated a transgenic Drosophila eye model where high levels of human Aβ42 is misexpressed in the differentiating photoreceptor neurons of the developing eye, which phenocopy Alzheimer's like neuropathology in the neural retina. We have utilized this model for a gain of function screen using members of various signaling pathways involved in the development of the fly eye to identify downstream targets or modifiers of Aβ42 mediated neurodegeneration. We have identified the homeotic gene teashirt (tsh) as a suppressor of the Aβ42 mediated neurodegenerative phenotype. Targeted misexpression of tsh with Aβ42 in the differentiating retina can significantly rescue neurodegeneration by blocking cell death. We found that Tsh protein is absent/ downregulated in the neural retina at this stage. The structure function analysis revealed that the PLDLS domain of Tsh acts as an inhibitor of the neuroprotective function of tsh in the Drosophila eye model. Lastly, we found that the tsh paralog, tiptop (tio) can also rescue Aβ42 mediated neurodegeneration.
We have identified tsh and tio as new genetic modifiers of Aβ42 mediated neurodegeneration. Our studies demonstrate a novel neuroprotective function of tsh and its paralog tio in Aβ42 mediated neurodegeneration. The neuroprotective function of tsh is independent of its role in retinal determination.
Aged dogs and humans share complex cognitive and pathological responses to aging. Specifically, dogs develop Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) like beta-amyloid (Aβ) that are associated with cognitive deficits. Currently, therapeutic approaches to prevent AD are targeted towards reduced production, aggregation and increased clearance of Aβ. The current review discusses cognition and neuropathology of the aging canine model and how it has and continues to be useful in further understanding the safety and efficacy of potential AD prevention therapies targeting Aβ.
Alzheimer's disease; canine; statins; BACE-1 inhibitors; metal-chelators; A-beta vaccination.
Synaptic pathology and mitochondrial oxidative damage are early events in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progression. Loss of synapses and synaptic damage are the best correlate of cognitive deficits found in AD patients. Recent research on amyloid bet (Aβ) and mitochondria in AD revealed that Aβ accumulates in synapses and synaptic mitochondria, leading to abnormal mitochondrial dynamics and synaptic degeneration in AD neurons. Further, recent studies using live-cell imaging and primary neurons from amyloid beta precursor protein (AβPP) transgenic mice revealed that reduced mitochondrial mass, defective axonal transport of mitochondria and synaptic degeneration, indicating that Aβ is responsible for mitochondrial and synaptic deficiencies. Tremendous progress has been made in studying antioxidant approaches in mouse models of AD and clinical trials of AD patients. This article highlights the recent developments made in Aβ-induced abnormal mitochondrial dynamics, defective mitochondrial biogenesis, impaired axonal transport and synaptic deficiencies in AD. This article also focuses on mitochondrial approaches in treating AD, and also discusses latest research on mitochondria-targeted antioxidants in AD.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by progressive neurodegeneration and cerebral accumulation of the β-amyloid peptide (Aβ), but it is unknown what makes neurons susceptible to degeneration. We report that the TGF-β type II receptor (TβRII) is mainly expressed by neurons, and that TβRII levels are reduced in human AD brain and correlate with pathological hallmarks of the disease. Reducing neuronal TGF-β signaling in mice resulted in age-dependent neurodegeneration and promoted Aβ accumulation and dendritic loss in a mouse model of AD. In cultured cells, reduced TGF-β signaling caused neuronal degeneration and resulted in increased levels of secreted Aβ and β-secretase–cleaved soluble amyloid precursor protein. These results show that reduced neuronal TGF-β signaling increases age-dependent neurodegeneration and AD-like disease in vivo. Increasing neuronal TGF-β signaling may thus reduce neurodegeneration and be beneficial in AD.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive chronic disorder and is characterized by β-amyloid plaques and angiopathy, tau pathology, neuronal cell death, and inflammatory responses. The reasons for this disease are not known. This review proposes the hypothesis that a chronic mild longlasting cerebrovascular dysfunction could initiate a cascade of events leading to AD. It is suggested that (vascular) risk factors (e.g. hypercholesterolemia, type 2 diabetes, hyperhomocysteinemia) causes either damage of the cerebrovascular system including silent strokes or causes dysregulation of beta-amyloid clearance at the blood-brain barrier resulting in increased brain beta-amyloid. A cascade of subsequent downstream events may lead to disturbed metabolic changes, and neuroinflammation and tau pathology. The role of NGF on the cell death of cholinergic neurons is discussed. Additional risk factors (e.g. acidosis, metals) contribute to plaque development.
► Hypothesis for development of Alzheimers disease. ► Chronic mild vascular risk factors damage brain capillaries. ► Dysregulation of beta-amyloid clearance at the blood-brain barrier. ► Vascular dysfunction causes metabolic disturbances. ► Downstream cascade causes inflammation, oxiditative stress and neurodegeneration.
Vascular system; Alzheimer; Vascular dementia; Hypothesis; Cascade
The pathological processes of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases engender synaptic and neuronal cell damage. While mild oxidative and nitrosative (nitric oxide (NO)-related) stress mediates normal neuronal signaling, excessive accumulation of these free radicals is linked to neuronal cell injury or death. In neurons, N-methyl--aspartate (NMDA) receptor (NMDAR) activation and subsequent Ca2+ influx can induce the generation of NO via neuronal NO synthase. Emerging evidence has demonstrated that S-nitrosylation, representing covalent reaction of an NO group with a critical protein thiol, mediates the vast majority of NO signaling. Analogous to phosphorylation and other posttranslational modifications, S-nitrosylation can regulate the biological activity of many proteins. Here, we discuss recent studies that implicate neuropathogenic roles of S-nitrosylation in protein misfolding, mitochondrial dysfunction, synaptic injury, and eventual neuronal loss. Among a growing number of S-nitrosylated proteins that contribute to disease pathogenesis, in this review we focus on S-nitrosylated protein-disulfide isomerase (forming SNO-PDI) and dynamin-related protein 1 (forming SNO-Drp1). Furthermore, we describe drugs, such as memantine and newer derivatives of this compound that can prevent both hyperactivation of extrasynaptic NMDARs as well as downstream pathways that lead to nitrosative stress, synaptic damage, and neuronal loss.
NMDA receptor; S-nitrosylation; misfolded protein; mitochondrial dysfunction; neurodegeneration
Motor neuron diseases, manifest as weakness and atrophy of skeletal muscles, occur in infancy, childhood, and adult life. Some forms of this disease are inherited. Motor neurons are selectively affected and exhibit cytoskeletal pathology, primarily enlargements of proximal axons by accumulations of transported neurofilaments. A motor neuron disease, hereditary canine spinal muscular atrophy, has been discovered in Brittany spaniels. The disease is inherited as an autosomal dominant characteristic and shows striking clinical and pathological features in common with human motor neuron disease. The availability of this excellent animal model of the human condition has allowed neurobiological investigations of the dynamics of structural and chemical pathologies of vulnerable neurons.
The pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is associated with the accumulation of aggregated forms of the α-synuclein (αSN) protein. An early event in the neuropathology of PD and DLB is the loss of synapses and a corresponding reduction in the level of synaptic proteins. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in synapse damage in these diseases are poorly understood. In this study the process of synapse damage was investigated by measuring the amount of synaptophysin, a pre-synaptic membrane protein essential for neurotransmission, in cultured neurons incubated with αSN, or with amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides that are thought to trigger synapse degeneration in Alzheimer's disease.
We report that the addition of recombinant human αSN reduced the amount of synaptophysin in cultured cortical and hippocampal neurons indicative of synapse damage. αSN also reduced synaptic vesicle recycling, as measured by the uptake of the fluorescent dye FM1-43. These effects of αSN on synapses were modified by interactions with other proteins. Thus, the addition of βSN reduced the effects of αSN on synapses. In contrast, the addition of amyloid-β (Aβ)1-42 exacerbated the effects of αSN on synaptic vesicle recycling and synapse damage. Similarly, the addition of αSN increased synapse damage induced by Aβ1-42. However, this effect of αSN was selective as it did not affect synapse damage induced by the prion-derived peptide PrP82-146.
These results are consistent with the hypothesis that oligomers of αSN trigger synapse damage in the brains of Parkinson's disease patients. Moreover, they suggest that the effect of αSN on synapses may be influenced by interactions with other peptides produced within the brain.
Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) disease is an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by intracellular accumulation of cholesterol and glycosphingolipids in many tissues including the brain. The disease is caused by mutations of either NPC1 or NPC2 gene and is accompanied by a severe loss of neurons in the cerebellum, but not in the hippocampus. NPC pathology exhibits some similarities with Alzheimer’s disease, including increased levels of amyloid β (Aβ)-related peptides in vulnerable brain regions, but very little is known about the expression of amyloid precursor protein (APP) or APP secretases in NPC disease. In the present study, we evaluated age-related alterations in the level/distribution of APP and its processing enzymes, β- and γ-secretases, in the hippocampus and cerebellum of Npc1−/− mice, a well-established model of NPC pathology. Our results show that levels and expression of APP and β-secretase are elevated in the cerebellum prior to changes in the hippocampus, whereas γ-secretase components are enhanced in both brain regions at the same time in Npc1−/− mice. Interestingly, a subset of reactive astrocytes in Npc1−/− mouse brains expresses high levels of APP as well as β- and γ-secretase components. Additionally, the activity of β-secretase is enhanced in both the hippocampus and cerebellum of Npc1−/− mice at all ages, while the level of C-terminal APP fragments is increased in the cerebellum of 10-week-old Npc1−/− mice. These results, taken together, suggest that increased level and processing of APP may be associated with the development of pathology and/or degenerative events observed in Npc1−/− mouse brains.
Apoptosis; β-amyloid peptide; β-secretase; Cholesterol; γ-secretase; Neurodegeneration; Reactive astrocytes