Over the last 15 years, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers have been shown to be useful for both the diagnosis as well as the prognosis in Alzheimer’s disease. It has been shown the CSF levels of Aβ42 are a very good marker for the presence of amyloid deposition in the brain regardless of clinical status and that total tau and phosphorylated forms of tau are useful in detection of neurodegeneration. When combined together, these CSF markers are useful not only in differential diagnosis but also in predicting conversion and rate of progression from mild cognitive impairment/very mild dementia to more severe impairment. The markers are also useful in predicting conversion from cognitive normalcy to very mild dementia. This field is briefly reviewed and recommendations for future studies in this area is provided.
The order and magnitude of pathologic processes in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood, partly because the disease develops over many years. Autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease has a predictable age at onset and provides an opportunity to determine the sequence and magnitude of pathologic changes that culminate in symptomatic disease.
In this prospective, longitudinal study, we analyzed data from 128 participants who underwent baseline clinical and cognitive assessments, brain imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood tests. We used the participant’s age at baseline assessment and the parent’s age at the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to calculate the estimated years from expected symptom onset (age of the participant minus parent’s age at symptom onset). We conducted cross-sectional analyses of baseline data in relation to estimated years from expected symptom onset in order to determine the relative order and magnitude of pathophysiological changes.
Concentrations of amyloid-beta (Aβ)42 in the CSF appeared to decline 25 years before expected symptom onset. Aβ deposition, as measured by positron-emission tomography with the use of Pittsburgh compound B, was detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Increased concentrations of tau protein in the CSF and an increase in brain atrophy were detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Cerebral hypometabolism and impaired episodic memory were observed 10 years before expected symptom onset. Global cognitive impairment, as measured by the Mini–Mental State Examination and the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, was detected 5 years before expected symptom onset, and patients met diagnostic criteria for dementia at an average of 3 years after expected symptom onset.
We found that autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease was associated with a series of pathophysiological changes over decades in CSF biochemical markers of Alzheimer’s disease, brain amyloid deposition, and brain metabolism as well as progressive cognitive impairment. Our results require confirmation with the use of longitudinal data and may not apply to patients with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others; DIAN ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00869817.)
APOE ε4 status has been associated with greater cortical amyloid deposition whereas exercise has been associated with less in cognitively normal adults. The primary objective here was to examine whether physical exercise moderates the association between APOE genotype and amyloid deposition in cognitively normal adults.
APOE genotyping and a questionnaire on physical exercise engagement over the last decade were obtained in conjunction with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples and amyloid imaging with PET-PIB. Participants were classified as either low or high exercisers based on exercise guidelines of the American Heart Association.
201 cognitively normal adults (135 females) aged 45–88 were recruited from the Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center at Washington University. CSF samples were collected from 165 participants. Amyloid imaging was performed on 163 participants.
APOE ε4 carriers evidenced higher PIB binding (p<.001) and lower CSF Aβ42 levels (p<.001) than non-carriers. Our previous findings of higher PIB binding (p=.005) and lower CSF Aβ42 levels (p=.009) in more sedentary individuals were replicated. Most importantly, we observed a novel interaction between APOE status and exercise engagement for PIB binding (p=.008) such that a more sedentary lifestyle was significantly associated with higher PIB binding for ε4 carriers (p=.013) but not for ε4 non-carriers (p=.208). All findings remained significant after controlling for age, gender, education, hypertension, body mass index, diabetes, heart problems, history of depression and interval between assessments.
Collectively, these results suggest that cognitively normal sedentary APOE ε4+ individuals may be at augmented risk for cerebral amyloid deposition.
Diagnostic challenges exist for differentiating HIV associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) from symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in HIV+ participants. Both disorders have cerebral amyloid containing plaques associated with abnormalities in amyloid beta protein 1–42 (Aβ42) metabolism. We evaluated if the amyloid-binding agent 11C-Pittsburgh compound B (11C-PiB) could discriminate AD from HAND in middle-aged HIV+ participants.
11C-PiB scanning, clinical assessment, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis were performed. χ2 and t-tests assessed differences in clinical and demographic variables between HIV+ participants and community-living individuals followed by Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC). An analysis of variance (ANOVA) assessed for regional differences in Aβ42 using 11C-PiB.
ADRC and HIV clinic
16 HIV+ participants (11 cognitively normal, 5 with HAND) and 19 ADRC participants (8 cognitively normal, 11 with symptomatic AD).
Main Outcome Measure(s)
Mean and regional 11C-PiB binding potentials
Symptomatic AD were older (p < 0.001), had lower CSF Aβ42 (p < 0.001), and had higher CSF tau levels (p < 0.001) than other groups. Regardless of degree of impairment, HIV+ participants did not have increased 11C-PiB. Mean and regional binding potentials were elevated for symptomatic AD participants (p <0.0001).
Middle-aged HIV+ participants, even with HAND, do not exhibit increased 11C-PiB while symptomatic AD individuals have increased fibrillar Aβ42 deposition in cortical and subcortical regions. Observed dissimilarities between HAND and AD may reflect differences in Aβ42 metabolism. 11C-PiB may provide a diagnostic biomarker for distinguishing symptomatic AD from HAND in middle-aged HIV+ participants. Future cross sectional and longitudinal studies are required to assess utility of 11C-PiB in older HAND individuals.
HIV; Pittsburgh compound B (PIB); amyloid; HIV associated neurocognitive disorders; Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia. Much is known concerning AD pathophysiology but our understanding of the disease at the systems level remains incomplete. Previous AD research has used resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fcMRI) to assess the integrity of functional networks within the brain. Most studies have focused on the default-mode network (DMN), a primary locus of AD pathology. However, other brain regions are inevitably affected with disease progression. We studied rs-fcMRI in five functionally defined brain networks within a large cohort of human participants of either gender (n=510) that ranged in AD severity from unaffected (clinical dementia rating, CDR 0) to very mild (CDR 0.5) to mild AD (CDR 1). We observed loss of correlations within not only the DMN but other networks at CDR 0.5. Within the salience network (SAL), increases were seen between CDR 0 and CDR 0.5. However, at CDR 1, all networks, including SAL, exhibited reduced correlations. Specific networks were preferentially affected at certain CDR stages. In addition, cross-network relations were consistently lost with increasing AD severity. Our results demonstrate that AD is associated with widespread loss of both intra- and inter-network correlations. These results provide insight into AD pathophysiology and reinforce an integrative view of the brain’s functional organization.
Alzheimer’s disease; fMRI; resting state functional connectivity; BOLD; default mode network; salience network
Apolipoprotein E ε4 (APOE ε4) is the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Evidence suggests that the effect of apoE isoforms on amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation in the brain plays a critical role in AD pathogenesis. Like in humans, apoE4 expression in animal models that develop Aβ-amyloidosis results in greater Aβ and amyloid deposition than with apoE3 expression. However, whether decreasing levels of apoE3 or apoE4 would promote or attenuate Aβ-related pathology has not been directly addressed. To determine the effect of decreasing human apoE levels on Aβ accumulation in vivo, we generated human APOE isoform haploinsufficient mouse models by crossing APPPS1-21 mice with APOE isoform knock-in mice. By genetically manipulating APOE gene dosage, we demonstrate that decreasing human apoE levels, regardless of isoform status, results in significantly decreased amyloid plaque deposition and microglial activation. This differences in amyloid load between apoE3 and apoE4 expressing mice were not due to apoE4 protein being present at lower levels than apoE3. These data suggest that current therapeutic strategies to increase apoE levels without altering its lipidation state may actually worsen Aβ amyloidosis, while increasing apoE degradation or inhibiting its synthesis may be a more effective treatment approach.
Apolipoprotein E; Haploinsufficiency; Aβ; Amyloid; Plaque; Alzheimer’s disease
A major feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a late-onset neurodegenerative disorder, is the ordered aggregation of the β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) into fibrils that comprise extracellular neuritic plaques found in the disease brain. One of many potential pathways for Aβ toxicity may be modulation of lipid membrane function. Here, we show by in situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) that astrocyte secreted lipoprotein particles (ASLPs) containing different isoforms of apolipoprotein E (apoE), of which the apoE4 allele is a major risk factor for the development of AD, can protect total brain lipid extract bilayers from Aβ1–40 induced disruption. The apoE4 allele was less effective in protecting lipid bilayers from disruption compared with apoE3. Size analysis of apoE-containing ASLPs and mechanical studies of bilayer properties revealed that apoE-containing ASLPs modulate the mechanical properties of bilayers by acquiring some bilayer components (most likely cholesterol and/or oxidatively damaged lipids). Measurement of bilayer mechanical properties was accomplished with scanning probe acceleration microscopy (SPAM). These measurements demonstrated that apoE4 was also less effective in modulating mechanical properties of bilayers in comparison with apoE3. This ability of apoE to alter the mechanical properties of lipid membranes may represent a potential mechanism for the suppression of Aβ1–40 induced bilayer disruption.
Apolipoprotein E; amyloid-β; lipid bilayer; cholesterol; atomic force microscopy; Alzheimer’s disease
A major feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD), a late-onset neurodegenerative disorder, is the ordered aggregation of the β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) into fibrils that comprise extracellular neuritic plaques found in the disease brain. One of many potential pathways for Aβ toxicity may be modulation of lipid membrane function. Here, we show by in situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) that astrocyte secreted lipoprotein particles (ASLPs) containing different isoforms of apolipoprotein E (apoE), of which the apoE4 allele is a major risk factor for the development of AD, can protect total brain lipid extract bilayers from Aβ1-40 induced disruption. The apoE4 allele was less effective in protecting lipid bilayers from disruption compared with apoE3. Size analysis of apoE-containing ASLPs and mechanical studies of bilayer properties revealed that apoE-containing ASLPs modulate the mechanical properties of bilayers by acquiring some bilayer components (most likely cholesterol and/or oxidatively damaged lipids). Measurement of bilayer mechanical properties was accomplished with scanning probe acceleration microscopy (SPAM). These measurements demonstrated that apoE4 was also less effective in modulating mechanical properties of bilayers in comparison with apoE3. This ability of apoE to alter the mechanical properties of lipid membranes may represent a potential mechanism for the suppression of Aβ1-40 induced bilayer disruption.
apolipoproteinE; Amyloid-β; lipid bilayer; cholesterol; atomic force microscopy; Alzheimer's disease
Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is a 299 amino acid protein encoded by the APOE gene. Three common polymorphisms in the APOE gene, ε2, ε3, and ε4, result in single amino changes in the ApoE protein. The APOEε2, ε3, and ε4 alleles strongly and dose-dependently alter the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). In particular, APOE ε4 is associated with increased risk for AD, whereas APOEε2 is associated with decreased risk. The effects of APOE genotype on AD and CAA risk are likely mediated, in large part, by differential effects of the ApoE protein on amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation in the brain and cerebrovasculature. Recent data indicate that responses to AD treatments may differ according to APOE genotype. The APOE ε4 allele is also associated with poor outcome following traumatic brain injury and brain hemorrhage, though the mechanisms underlying these associations are unclear. Given the convincing body of literature tying APOE genotype to AD and CAA risk, APOE has also been studied in relation to other neurological diseases. While the possibility that APOE plays a role in these diseases is of great interest, convincing associations have not yet emerged.
Brain region-specific deposition of extracellular amyloid plaques principally composed of aggregated amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide is a pathological signature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recent human neuroimaging data suggest that resting-state functional connectivity strength is reduced in patients with AD, cognitively normal elderly harboring elevated amyloid burden, and in advanced aging. Interestingly, there exists a striking spatial correlation between functional connectivity strength in cognitively normal adults and the location of Aβ plaque deposition in AD. However, technical limitations have heretofore precluded examination of the relationship between functional connectivity, Aβ deposition, and normal aging in mouse models. Using a novel functional connectivity optical intrinsic signal (fcOIS) imaging technique, we demonstrate that Aβ deposition is associated with significantly reduced bilateral functional connectivity in multiple brain regions of older APP/PS1 transgenic mice. The amount of Aβ deposition in each brain region was associated with the degree of local, age-related bilateral functional connectivity decline. Normal aging was associated with reduced bilateral functional connectivity specifically in retrosplenial cortex. Furthermore, we found that the magnitude of regional bilateral functional correlation in young APP/PS1 mice prior to Aβ plaque formation was proportional to the amount of region-specific plaque deposition seen later in older APP/PS1 mice. Together, these findings suggest that Aβ deposition and normal aging are associated with region-specific disruption of functional connectivity and that the magnitude of local bilateral functional connectivity predicts regional vulnerability to subsequent Aβ deposition in mouse brain.
To identify quantitative MRI indices of injury in the brain following neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury (HI), we subjected mouse pups to HI on postnatal day 7 and obtained conventional and diffusion weighted in vivo images of the brain 24 hours later followed by histological assessment.
T2-weighted images showed increased signal intensity in the CA1 and CA2 regions of the hippocampus ipsilateral to the injury and adjacent white matter (WM). In contrast, diffusion imaging showed reduced apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values in CA1 and CA2, but increased values in the adjacent WM. Histological analysis showed widespread gliosis with degenerating oligodendrocytes in the ipsilateral hippocampus. In addition, WM areas that were abnormal by MRI showed an increase in the number of activated microglia (CD45 positive cells).
Activated caspase-3 immunostaining showed a marked increase in neurons in the hippocampal regions corresponding to those with reduced ADC, and a quantitative measure of staining showed a statistically significant correlation with the ADC. In contrast, ADC was higher in adjacent white matter, where histology showed activation of microglia and reactive oligodendrocytes but not caspase-3 activation. These results suggest that the ADC response differs between areas of neuronal injury as compared with those showing glial changes without marked cell death.
Apoptosis; apparent diffusion coefficient; caspase-3 activation; hypoxic-ischemic injury
To evaluate the combination of cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers of Aβ42, tau, and phosphorylated tau (ptau181) with education and normalized whole brain volume (nWBV) to predict incident cognitive impairment and test the cognitive/brain reserve hypothesis.
Longitudinal cohort study.
Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
Convenience sample of 197 participants aged 50 years and above, with normal cognition (Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR] of 0) at baseline, followed for a mean of 3.3 years.
Main outcome measure
Time to cognitive impairment (CDR ≥ 0.5).
Three-factor interactions between the baseline biomarker values, education, and nWBV were found for Cox proportional hazards models testing tau (p=.03) and ptau (p=.008). Among those with lower tau values, nWBV (hazard ratio [HR]=.54, 95% confidence interval [CI]=.31–.91; p=.02), but not education, was related to time to cognitive impairment. For participants with higher tau values, education interacted with nWBV to predict incident impairment (p=.01). For individuals with lower ptau values, there was no effect of education or nWBV. Education interacted with nWBV to predict incident cognitive impairment among those with higher ptau values (p=.02). In models testing Aβ42, larger nWBV was associated with a slower time to cognitive impairment (HR=.84, 95%CI=.71–.99, p=.0348), but there was no effect of Aβ42 or education.
Among individuals with higher levels of CSF tau and ptau, but normal cognition at baseline, time to incident cognitive impairment is moderated by education and brain volume as predicted by the cognitive/brain reserve hypothesis.
Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is the most statistically significant genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD). The linkage disequilibrium pattern around the APOE gene has made it difficult to determine whether all of the association signal is derived from APOE or if there is an independent signal from a nearby gene. In this study we attempted to replicate a recently reported association of APOE 3-TOMM40 haplotypes with risk and age at onset.
We used standard techniques to genotype several polymorphisms in the APOE-TOMM40 region in a large case-control series, in a series with cerebrospinal fluid biomarker data and in brain tissue.
We failed to replicate the previously reported association of the polyT polymorphism (rs10524523) with risk and age at onset. We found a significant association between rs10524523 and risk for LOAD among APOE 33 homozygotes but in the opposite direction to the previously reported association (the very-long allele was underrepresented in cases compared to controls in our study (allele frequency: 0.41 vs. 0.48 respectively; p=0.004)). We found no association between rs10524523 and CSF tau or Aβ42 levels or TOMM40 or APOE gene expression.
Although we were not able to replicate the earlier association between the APOE 3-TOMM40 haplotypes and age at onset, we did observe that the polyT polymorphism is associated with risk for LOAD among APOE 33 homozygotes in a large case-control series, but in the opposite direction to the previous report. Additional studies in very large samples will be needed to confirm this association.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized in part by extracellular aggregation of the amyloid-β peptide in the form of diffuse and fibrillar plaques in the brain. Electron microscopy (EM) has made an important contribution in understanding of the structure of amyloid plaques in humans. Classical EM studies have revealed the architecture of the fibrillar core, characterized the progression of neuritic changes, and have identified the neurofibrillary tangles formed by paired helical filaments (PHF) in degenerating neurons. Clinical data has strongly correlated cognitive impairment in AD with the substantial synapse loss observed in these early ultrastructural studies. Animal models of AD-type brain amyloidosis have provided excellent opportunities to study amyloid and neuritic pathology in detail and establish the role of neurons and glia in plaque formation. Transgenic mice overexpressing mutant amyloid precursor protein (APP) alone with or without mutant presenilin 1 (PS1), have shown that brain amyloid plaque development and structure grossly recapitulate classical findings in humans. Transgenic APP/PS1 mice expressing human apolioprotein E isoforms also develop amyloid plaque deposition. However no ultrastructural data has been reported for these animals. Here we show results from detailed EM analysis of amyloid plaques in APP/PS1 mice expressing human isoforms of ApoE and compare these findings with EM data in other transgenic models and in human AD. Our results show that similar to other transgenic animals, APP/PS1 mice expressing human ApoE isoforms share all major cellular and subcellular degenerative features and highlight the identity of the cellular elements involved in Aβ deposition and neuronal degeneration.
Alzheimer’s disease; electron microscopy; amyloid precursor protein; presenilin 1; ApoE
The effects of sleep deprivation on dopaminergic systems remain elusive, in part due to the lack of selective ligands for dopamine receptor subtypes. We examined D1, D2 and D3 receptor density in the mouse brain after sleep deprivation by receptor autoradiography using [3H]SCH 23390 for D1R, [3H]raclopride for D2R, and [3H]WC-10 for D3R (a novel D3R-selective compound developed in our laboratory, not previously reported in mouse). Sleep-deprived mice showed a significant decrease in D1R, no change in D2R, and a significant increase in D3R binding in striatum. This pattern of dopamine receptor changes was not seen in mice subjected to restraint stress, suggesting specificity to sleep. These data provide evidence that brain dopaminergic circuits are remodeled after sleep deprivation.
Dopamine; Sleep Deprivation; Receptors, Dopamine D1; Receptors, Dopamine D2; Receptors, Dopamine D3; Autoradiography
The identification and characterization of amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau as the main pathological substrates of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has driven many efforts in search for suitable biomarkers for AD. In the last decade, research in this area has focused on developing a better understanding of the principles that govern protein deposition, mechanisms that link aggregation to toxicity and neuronal death, and a better understanding of protein dynamics in brain tissue, interstitial fluid and CSF. While Aβ and tau represent the two key pathological mediators of disease, other aspects of this multifaceted disease (e.g. oxidative stress, calcium-mediated toxicity, and neuroinflammation) are being unraveled, with the hope to develop a more comprehensive approach in exploring disease mechanisms. This has not only expanded possible areas for disease-modifying therapies, but has also allowed the introduction of novel, and potentially useful, fluid and radiological markers for the presence and progression of AD pathology. There is no doubt that the identification of several fluid and imaging biomarkers that can reliably detect the early stages of AD will have great implications in the design of clinical trials, in the selection of homogenous research populations, and in the assessment of disease outcomes. Markers with good diagnostic specificity will aid researchers in differentiating individuals with preclinical and probable AD from individuals who do not have AD pathology or have other dementing disorders. Markers that change with disease progression may offer utility in assessing the rates of disease progression and the efficacy of potential therapeutic agents on AD pathology. For both of these purposes, CSF Aβ42, amyloid imaging, and CSF tau appear to be very good markers of the presence of AD pathology as well as predictive or who will progress from MCI to AD. Volumetric MRI is also good at separating individuals with MCI and AD from controls and is predictive of who will progress from MCI to AD. Perhaps the most important role biomarkers will have, and the most needed at this time, lies in the identification of individuals who are cognitively normal, and yet have evidence of AD pathology (i.e. preclinical AD). Such individuals, it appears, can be identified with CSF Aβ42, amyloid imaging, and CSF tau. Such individuals are the most likely to benefit from future disease modifying/prevention therapies as they become available, and therefore represent the population in which the field can make the biggest therapeutic impact.
Alzheimer’s disease; biomarkers; amyloid-β; tau; imaging; antecedent biomarkers; plaques
Growing evidence supports the hypothesis that soluble, diffusible forms of the amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) are pathogenically important in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and thus have both diagnostic and therapeutic salience. To learn more about the dynamics of soluble Aβ economy in vivo, we sampled by microdialysis the brain interstitial fluid (ISF), which contains the most soluble Aβ species in brain at steady state, in >40 wake, behaving APP transgenic mice before and during the process of Aβ plaque formation (age 3–28 months). Diffusible forms of Aβ, especially Aβ42, declined significantly in ISF as mice underwent progressive parenchymal deposition of Aβ. Moreover, radiolabeled Aβ administered at physiological concentrations into ISF revealed a striking difference in the fate of soluble Aβ in plaque-rich (vs. -free) mice: it clears more rapidly from the ISF and becomes more associated with the TBS-extractable pool, suggesting that cerebral amyloid deposits can rapidly sequester soluble Aβ from the ISF. Likewise, acute γ-secretase inhibition in plaque-free mice showed a marked decline of Aβ38, Aβ40 and Aβ42, whereas in plaque- rich mice, Aβ42 declined significantly less. These results suggest that most of the Aβ42 that populates the ISF in plaque-rich mice is derived not from new Aβ biosynthesis but rather from the large reservoir of less soluble Aβ42 in brain parenchyma. Together, these and other findings herein illuminate the in vivo dynamics of soluble Aβ during the development of AD-type neuropathology and after γ-secretase inhibition and help explain the apparent paradox that cerebrospinal fluid Aβ42 levels fall as humans develop AD.
Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly. Clinicopathological studies support the presence of a long preclinical phase of the disease, with the initial deposition of AD pathology estimated to begin approximately 10–15 years prior to the onset of clinical symptoms. The hallmark clinical phenotype of AD is a gradual and progressive decline in two or more cognitive domains, most commonly involving episodic memory and executive functions, that is sufficient to cause social or occupational impairment. Current diagnostic criteria can accurately identify AD in the majority of cases. As disease-modifying therapies are being developed, there is growing interest in the identification of individuals in the earliest symptomatic, as well as presymptomatic, stages of disease, because it is in this population that such therapies may have the greatest chance of success. The use of informant-based methods to establish cognitive and functional decline of an individual from previously attained levels of performance best allows for the identification of individuals in the very mildest stages of cognitive impairment.
Alzheimer disease pathology begins 10–15 years before the onset of clinical symptoms. Diagnosing individuals in the earliest stages of the disease will benefit counseling, prognosis, and therapeutic decision-making.
Alcadeinα (Alcα) is a neuronal membrane protein that colocalizes with the Alzheimer's amyloid-β precursor protein (APP). Successive cleavage of APP by β- and γ-secretases generates the aggregatable amyloid-β peptide (Aβ), while cleavage of APP or Alcα by α- and γ-secretases generates non-aggregatable p3 or p3-Alcα peptides. Aβ and p3-Alcα can be recovered from human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). We have previously reported alternative processing of APP and Alcα in the CSF of some patients with sporadic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD (SAD).
Using the sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) system that detects total p3-Alcα, we determined levels of total p3-Alcα in CSF from subjects in one of four diagnostic categories (elderly controls, MCI, SAD, or other neurological disease) derived from three independent cohorts. Levels of Aβ40 correlated with levels of total p3-Alcα in all cohorts.
We confirm that Aβ40 is the most abundant Aβ species, and we propose a model in which CSF p3-Alcα can serve as a either (1) a nonaggregatable surrogate marker for γ-secretase activity; (2) as a marker for clearance of transmembrane domain peptides derived from integral protein catabolism; or (3) both. We propose the specification of an MCI/SAD endophenotype characterized by co-elevation of levels of both CSF p3-Alcα and Aβ40, and we propose that subjects in this category might be especially responsive to therapeutics aimed at modulation of γ-secretase function and/or transmembrane domain peptide clearance. These peptides may also be used to monitor the efficacy of therapeutics that target these steps in Aβ metabolism
Alzheimer's disease; Cerebrospinal fluid; γ-secretase; Alcadein; β-amyloid
A previous study from our lab has shown that the polyphenol rich pomegranate juice (PJ) can protect the neonatal mouse brain against hypoxic-ischemic (H-I) injury when given to mothers in their drinking water. To test the hypothesis that this protection is due to the polyphenols in the juice we studied the effects of the pomegranate polyphenol extract in the same neonatal H-I model. To further explore the role of a specific polyphenol in neonatal H-I we investigated the effects of resveratrol. The neuroprotective effects of resveratrol have been demonstrated in adult models of stroke, but had not previously been examined in neonates. We show that pomegranate polyphenols and resveratrol reduce caspase-3 activation following neonatal H-I. Resveratrol reduced caspase-3 activation when given before the injury but not when given 3 hours after the injury. In addition to preventing caspase-3 activation, resveratrol also reduced calpain activation. Finally, we show that resveratrol can protect against tissue loss measured at 7 days after the injury. These and other recent findings suggest that polyphenols should be further investigated as a potential treatment to decrease brain injury due to neonatal H-I.
The concentration of amyloid-β (Aβ) within the brain extracellular space is one determinant of whether the peptide will aggregate into toxic species that are important in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathogenesis. Some types of synaptic activity can regulate Aβ levels. Here we demonstrate two distinct mechanisms that are simultaneously activated by NMDA receptors and regulate brain interstitial fluid (ISF) Aβ levels in opposite directions in the living mouse. Depending on the dose of NMDA administered locally to the brain, ISF Aβ levels either increase or decrease. Low doses of NMDA increase action potentials and synaptic transmission which leads to an elevation in synaptic Aβ generation. In contrast, high doses of NMDA activate signaling pathways that lead to ERK (extracellular-regulated kinase) activation, which reduces processing of APP into Aβ. This depression in Aβ via APP processing occurs despite dramatically elevated synaptic activity. Both of these synaptic mechanisms are simultaneously active, with the balance between them determining whether ISF Aβ levels will increase or decrease. NMDA receptor antagonists increase ISF Aβ levels, suggesting that basal activity at these receptors normally suppresses Aβ levels in vivo. This has implications for understanding normal Aβ metabolism as well as AD pathogenesis.
The ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE) is the major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Although there have been numerous studies attempting to elucidate the underlying mechanism for this increased risk, the manner in which apoE4 influences AD onset and progression has yet to be proven. However, prevailing evidence suggests that the differential effects of apoE isoforms on Aβ aggregation and clearance play the major role in AD pathogenesis. Other potential mechanisms, such as the differential modulation of neurotoxicity and tau phosphorylation by apoE isoforms as well as its role in synaptic plasticity and neuroinflammation, have not been ruled out. Inconsistent results among studies have made it difficult to define whether the APOE ε4 allele represents a gain of toxic function, a loss of neuroprotective function, or both. Therapeutic strategies based on apoE propose to reduce the toxic effects of apoE4 or to restore the physiological, protective functions of apoE. In addition, modulation of apoE protein levels and lipidation state by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor family members and ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) may be useful to exploit as future therapeutic targets.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) was first described little more than 100 years ago. It is the most common cause of dementia with an estimated prevalence of 30 million people worldwide, a number that is expected to quadruple in 40 years. There currently is no effective treatment that delays the onset or slows the progression of AD. However, major scientific advances in the areas of genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, and neuroscience over the last 25 years have changed the way we think about AD and offer hope that, if the disease is detected prior to the onset of overt symptoms and signs, it is possible that treatments based on knowledge of underlying pathogenesis can and will be effective.
The National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association charged a workgroup with the task of developing criteria for the symptomatic predementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), referred to in this article as mild cognitive impairment due to AD. The workgroup developed the following two sets of criteria: (1) core clinical criteria that could be used by healthcare providers without access to advanced imaging techniques or cerebrospinal fluid analysis, and (2) research criteria that could be used in clinical research settings, including clinical trials. The second set of criteria incorporate the use of biomarkers based on imaging and cerebrospinal fluid measures. The final set of criteria for mild cognitive impairment due to AD has four levels of certainty, depending on the presence and nature of the biomarker findings. Considerable work is needed to validate the criteria that use biomarkers and to standardize biomarker analysis for use in community settings.
Mild cognitive impairment; AD dementia; Diagnosis
Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype is the major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer disease (AD); the ε4 allele increases risk and the ε2 allele is protective. In the central nervous system (CNS), apoE is produced by glial cells, is present in high-density-like lipoproteins, interacts with several receptors that are members of the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) family, and is a protein that binds to the amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide. There are a variety of mechanisms by which apoE isoform may influence risk for AD. There is substantial evidence that differential effects of apoE isoform on AD risk are influenced by the ability of apoE to affect Aβ aggregation and clearance in the brain. Other mechanisms are also likely to play a role in the ability of apoE to influence CNS function as well as AD, including effects on synaptic plasticity, cell signaling, lipid transport and metabolism, and neuroinflammation. ApoE receptors, including LDLRs, Apoer2, very low-density lipoprotein receptors (VLDLRs), and lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) appear to influence both the CNS effects of apoE as well as Aβ metabolism and toxicity. Therapeutic strategies based on apoE and apoE receptors may include influencing apoE/Aβ interactions, apoE structure, apoE lipidation, LDLR receptor family member function, and signaling. Understanding the normal and disease-related biology connecting apoE, apoE receptors, and AD is likely to provide novel insights into AD pathogenesis and treatment.
The ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E gene is a strong genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer disease. It may exert its effect by altering amyloid-β accumulation in the brain.