Alzheimer's disease is a common debilitating dementia with known heritability, for which 20 late onset susceptibility loci have been identified, but more remain to be discovered. This study sought to identify new susceptibility genes, using an alternative gene-wide analytical approach which tests for patterns of association within genes, in the powerful genome-wide association dataset of the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project Consortium, comprising over 7 m genotypes from 25,580 Alzheimer's cases and 48,466 controls.
In addition to earlier reported genes, we detected genome-wide significant loci on chromosomes 8 (TP53INP1, p = 1.4×10−6) and 14 (IGHV1-67 p = 7.9×10−8) which indexed novel susceptibility loci.
The additional genes identified in this study, have an array of functions previously implicated in Alzheimer's disease, including aspects of energy metabolism, protein degradation and the immune system and add further weight to these pathways as potential therapeutic targets in Alzheimer's disease.
Eleven susceptibility loci for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) were identified by previous studies; however, a large portion of the genetic risk for this disease remains unexplained. We conducted a large, two-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in individuals of European ancestry. In stage 1, we used genotyped and imputed data (7,055,881 SNPs) to perform meta-analysis on 4 previously published GWAS data sets consisting of 17,008 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 37,154 controls. In stage 2,11,632 SNPs were genotyped and tested for association in an independent set of 8,572 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 11,312 controls. In addition to the APOE locus (encoding apolipoprotein E), 19 loci reached genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8) in the combined stage 1 and stage 2 analysis, of which 11 are newly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been associated with increased local inflammation in the affected brain regions, and in some studies also with elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines in peripheral blood. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is known to promote a more effector-oriented phenotype in the T-cell compartment, increasing with age. The aim of this study was to investigate the inflammatory response of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from AD patients and non-demented (ND) controls. Using a multiplex Luminex xMAP assay targeting GM-CSF, IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IP-10 and TNF-α, cytokine profiles from PBMCs were analysed after stimulation with anti-CD3/CD28 beads, CMV pp65 peptide mix or amyloid β (Aβ) protofibrils, respectively. CMV seropositive AD subjects presented with higher IFN-γ levels after anti-CD3/CD28 and CMV pp65 but not after Aβ stimulation, compared to CMV seropositive ND controls. When analysing IFN-γ response to anti-CD3/CD28 stimulation on a subgroup level, CMV seropositive AD subjects presented with higher levels compared to both CMV seronegative AD and CMV seropositive ND subjects. Taken together, our data from patients with clinically manifest AD suggest a possible role of CMV as an inflammatory promoter in AD immunology. Further studies of AD patients at earlier stages of disease, could provide better insight into the pathophysiology.
According to the modified amyloid hypothesis the main event in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the deposition of neurotoxic amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) within neurons. Additionally to full-length peptides, a great diversity of N-truncated Aβ variants is derived from the larger amyloid precursor protein (APP). Vast evidence suggests that Aβx-42 isoforms play an important role triggering neurodegeneration due to its high abundance, amyloidogenic propensity and toxicity. Although N-truncated and Aβx-42 species have been pointed as crucial players in AD etiology, the Aβ5-x isoforms have not received much attention.
The present study is the first to show immunohistochemical evidence of Aβ5-x in familial cases of AD (FAD) and its distribution in APP/PS1KI, 5XFAD and 3xTG transgenic mouse models. In order to probe Aβ5-x peptides we generated the AB5-3 antibody. Positive plaques and congophilic amyloid angiopathy (CAA) were observed among all the FAD cases tested carrying either APP or presenilin 1 (PS1) mutations and most of the sporadic cases of AD (SAD). Different patterns of Aβ5-x distribution were found in the mouse models carrying different combinations of autosomal mutations in the APP, PS1 and Tau genes. All of them showed extracellular Aβ deposits but none CAA. Additionally, they were all affected by a severe amyloid pathology in the hippocampus among other areas. Interestingly, neither 5XFAD nor APP/PS1KI showed any evidence for intraneuronal Aβ5-x.
Different degrees of Aβ5-x accumulations can be found in the transgenic AD mouse models and human cases expressing the sporadic or the familial form of the disease. Due to the lack of intracellular Aβ5-x, these isoforms might not be contributing to early mechanisms in the cascade of events triggering AD pathology. Brain sections obtained from SAD cases showed higher Aβ5-x–immunoreactivity in vascular deposits than in extracellular plaques, while both are equally important in the FAD cases. The difference may rely on alternative mechanisms involving Aβ5-x peptides and operating in a divergent way in the late and early onset forms of the disease.
Aβ5-x; Amyloid plaques; 5XFAD; 3xTG; APP/PS1KI; Vascular deposits; N-truncated Aβ
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) has been suggested as a contributing force behind the impaired immune responsiveness in the elderly, with decreased numbers of naïve T-cells and an increased proportion of effector T-cells. Immunological impairment is also implicated as a part of the pathogenesis in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The aim of this study was to investigate whether AD patients present with a different CMV-specific CD8 immune profile compared to non-demented controls. Blood samples from 50 AD patients and 50 age-matched controls were analysed for HLA-type, CMV serostatus and systemic inflammatory biomarkers. Using multi-colour flow cytometry, lymphocytes from peripheral blood mononuclear cells were analysed for CMV-specific CD8 immunity with MHC-I tetramers A01, A02, A24, B07, B08 and B35 and further classified using CD27, CD28, CD45RA and CCR7 antibodies. Among CMV seropositive subjects, patients with AD had significantly lower proportions of CMV-specific CD8 T-cells compared to controls, 1.16 % vs. 4.13 % (p=0.0057). Regardless of dementia status, CMV seropositive subjects presented with a lower proportion of naïve CD8 cells and a higher proportion of effector CD8 cells compared to seronegative subjects. Interestingly, patients with AD showed a decreased proportion of CMV-specific CD8 cells but no difference in general CD8 differentiation.
Calcium signaling in the brain is fundamental to the learning and memory process and there is evidence to suggest that its dysfunction is involved in the pathological pathways underlying Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recently, the calcium hypothesis of AD has received support with the identification of the non-selective Ca2+-permeable channel CALHM1. A genetic polymorphism (p. P86L) in CALHM1 reduces plasma membrane Ca2+ permeability and is associated with an earlier age-at-onset of AD. To investigate the role of CALHM1 variants in early-onset AD (EOAD), we sequenced all CALHM1 coding regions in three independent series comprising 284 EOAD patients and 326 controls. Two missense mutations in patients (p.G330D and p.R154H) and one (p.A213T) in a control individual were identified. Calcium imaging analyses revealed that while the mutation found in a control (p.A213T) behaved as wild-type CALHM1 (CALHM1-WT), a complete abolishment of the Ca2+ influx was associated with the mutations found in EOAD patients (p.G330D and p.R154H). Notably, the previously reported p. P86L mutation was associated with an intermediate Ca2+ influx between the CALHM1-WT and the p.G330D and p.R154H mutations. Since neither expression of wild-type nor mutant CALHM1 affected amyloid ß-peptide (Aß) production or Aß-mediated cellular toxicity, we conclude that rare genetic variants in CALHM1 lead to Ca2+ dysregulation and may contribute to the risk of EOAD through a mechanism independent from the classical Aß cascade.
The Arctic mutation (p.E693G/p.E22G)fs within the β-amyloid (Aβ) region of the β-amyloid precursor protein gene causes an autosomal dominant disease with clinical picture of typical Alzheimer’s disease. Here we report the special character of Arctic AD neuropathology in four deceased patients.
Aβ deposition in the brains was wide-spread (Thal phase 5) and profuse. Virtually all parenchymal deposits were composed of non-fibrillar, Congo red negative Aβ aggregates. Congo red only stained angiopathic vessels. Mass spectrometric analyses showed that Aβ deposits contained variably truncated and modified wild type and mutated Aβ species. In three of four Arctic AD brains, most cerebral cortical plaques appeared targetoid with centres containing C-terminally (beyond aa 40) and variably N-terminally truncated Aβ surrounded by coronas immunopositive for Aβx-42. In the fourth patient plaque centres contained almost no Aβ making the plaques ring-shaped. The architectural pattern of plaques also varied between different anatomic regions. Tau pathology corresponded to Braak stage VI, and appeared mainly as delicate neuropil threads (NT) enriched within Aβ plaques. Dystrophic neurites were scarce, while neurofibrillary tangles were relatively common. Neuronal perikarya within the Aβ plaques appeared relatively intact.
In Arctic AD brain differentially truncated abundant Aβ is deposited in plaques of variable numbers and shapes in different regions of the brain (including exceptional targetoid plaques in neocortex). The extracellular non-fibrillar Aβ does not seem to cause overt damage to adjacent neurons or to induce formation of neurofibrillary tangles, supporting the view that intracellular Aβ oligomers are more neurotoxic than extracellular Aβ deposits. However, the enrichment of NTs within plaques suggests some degree of intra-plaque axonal damage including accumulation of hp-tau, which may impair axoplasmic transport, and thereby contribute to synaptic loss. Finally, similarly as the cotton wool plaques in AD resulting from exon 9 deletion in the presenilin-1 gene, the Arctic plaques induced only modest glial and inflammatory tissue reaction.
Familial Alzheimer’s disease; Arctic AβPP mutation; β-amyloid peptide; Mass spectrometry; Truncation of Aβ; Topography of Aβ; Hyperphosphorylated tau; Neuronal damage
The amyloid hypothesis in Alzheimer disease (AD) considers amyloid β peptide (Aβ) deposition causative in triggering down-stream events like neurofibrillary tangles, cell loss, vascular damage and memory decline. In the past years N-truncated Aβ peptides especially N-truncated pyroglutamate AβpE3-42 have been extensively studied. Together with full-length Aβ1–42 and Aβ1–40, N-truncated AβpE3-42 and Aβ4–42 are major variants in AD brain. Although Aβ4–42 has been known for a much longer time, there is a lack of studies addressing the question whether AβpE3-42 or Aβ4–42 may precede the other in Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
Using different Aβ antibodies specific for the different N-termini of N-truncated Aβ, we discovered that Aβ4-x preceded AβpE3-x intraneuronal accumulation in a transgenic mouse model for AD prior to plaque formation. The novel Aβ4-x immunoreactive antibody NT4X-167 detected high molecular weight aggregates derived from N-truncated Aβ species. While NT4X-167 significantly rescued Aβ4–42 toxicity in vitro no beneficial effect was observed against Aβ1–42 or AβpE3-42 toxicity. Phenylalanine at position four of Aβ was imperative for antibody binding, because its replacement with alanine or proline completely prevented binding. Although amyloid plaques were observed using NT4X-167 in 5XFAD transgenic mice, it barely reacted with plaques in the brain of sporadic AD patients and familial cases with the Arctic, Swedish and the presenilin-1 PS1Δ9 mutation. A consistent staining was observed in blood vessels in all AD cases with cerebral amyloid angiopathy. There was no cross-reactivity with other aggregates typical for other common neurodegenerative diseases showing that NT4X-167 staining is specific for AD.
Aβ4-x precedes AβpE3-x in the well accepted 5XFAD AD mouse model underlining the significance of N-truncated species in AD pathology. NT4X-167 therefore is the first antibody reacting with Aβ4-x and represents a novel tool in Alzheimer research.
Pyroglutamate Abeta; Abeta oligomer; Toxicity; Arctic; Swedish; Presenilin-1; 5XFAD; Transgenic mouse model; Familial Alzheimer’s disease; Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease; Abeta 4-40; Abeta 4–42
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin-positive, tau-negative inclusions, and linkage to chromosome 17 was recently found to be caused by mutations in the progranulin (PGRN) gene. In this study, we screened a group of 51 FTLD patients for PGRN mutations and identified a novel exon 6 splice donor site deletion (IVS6+5_8delGTGA) in 2 unrelated patients. This mutation displayed an altered splicing pattern generating 2 aberrant transcripts and causing frameshifts of the coding sequence, premature termination codons, and a near absence of PGRN mRNA from the mutated alleles most likely through nonsense-mediated decay. The subsequent PGRN haploinsufficiency is consistent with previously described PGRN mutations. We present a molecular characterization of the IVS6+5_8delGTGA mutation and also describe clinical and neuropathologic features from the 2 patients carrying this PGRN mutation. From the screening of these 51 FTLD patients, we could also identify the earlier reported mutation Gln130fs, and several coding sequence variants that are most likely nonpathogenic.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; frontotemporal dementia; progranulin; ubiquitin; TDP-43
Soluble amyloid-β (Aβ) aggregates of various sizes, ranging from dimers to large protofibrils, have been associated with neurotoxicity and synaptic dysfunction in Alzheimer's Disease (AD). To investigate the properties of biologically relevant Aβ species, brain extracts from amyloid β protein precursor (AβPP) transgenic mice and AD patients as well as synthetic Aβ preparations were separated by size under native conditions with density gradient ultracentrifugation. The fractionated samples were then analyzed with atomic force microscopy (AFM), ELISA, and MTT cell viability assay. Based on AFM appearance and immunoreactivity to our protofibril selective antibody mAb158, synthetic Aβ42 was divided in four fractions, with large aggregates in fraction 1 and the smallest species in fraction 4. Synthetic Aβ aggregates from fractions 2 and 3 proved to be most toxic in an MTT assay. In AβPP transgenic mouse brain, the most abundant soluble Aβ species were found in fraction 2 and consisted mainly of Aβ40. Also in AD brains, Aβ was mainly found in fraction 2 but primarily as Aβ42. All biologically derived Aβ from fraction 2 was immunologically discriminated from smaller species with mAb158. Thus, the predominant species of biologically derived soluble Aβ, natively separated by density gradient ultracentrifugation, were found to match the size of the neurotoxic, 80–500 kDa synthetic Aβ protofibrils and were equally detected with mAb158.
Recent research implicates soluble aggregated forms of α-synuclein as neurotoxic species with a central role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease and related disorders. The pathway by which α-synuclein aggregates is believed to follow a step-wise pattern, in which dimers and smaller oligomers are initially formed. Here, we used H4 neuroglioma cells expressing α-synuclein fused to hemi:GFP constructs to study the effects of α-synuclein monoclonal antibodies on the early stages of aggregation, as quantified by Bimolecular Fluorescence Complementation assay. Widefield and confocal microscopy revealed that cells treated for 48 h with monoclonal antibodies internalized antibodies to various degrees. C-terminal and oligomer-selective α-synuclein antibodies reduced the extent of α-synuclein dimerization/oligomerization, as indicated by decreased GFP fluorescence signal. Furthermore, ELISA measurements on lysates and conditioned media from antibody treated cells displayed lower α-synuclein levels compared to untreated cells, suggesting increased protein turnover. Taken together, our results propose that extracellular administration of monoclonal antibodies can modify or inhibit early steps in the aggregation process of α-synuclein, thus providing further support for passive immunization against diseases with α-synuclein pathology.
The only established genetic determinant of non-Mendelian forms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE). Recently, it has been reported that the P86L polymorphism of the calcium homeostasis modulator 1 gene (CALHM1) is associated with the risk of developing AD. In order to independently assess this association, we performed a meta-analysis of 7,873 AD cases and 13,274 controls of Caucasian origin (from a total of 24 centres in Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA). Our results indicate that the CALHM1 P86L polymorphism is likely not a genetic determinant of AD but may modulate age at onset by interacting with the effect of the ε4 allele of the APOE gene.
Several components in the Wnt pathway, including β-catenin and glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta, have been implied in AD pathogenesis. Here, mRNA brain levels from five-month-old tg-ArcSwe and nontransgenic mice were compared using Affymetrix microarray analysis. With surprisingly small overall changes, Wnt signaling was the most affected pathway with altered expression of nine genes in tg-ArcSwe mice. When analyzing mRNA levels of these genes in human brain, transcription factor 7-like 2 (TCF7L2) and v-myc myelocytomatosis viral oncogene homolog (MYC), were increased in Alzheimer's disease (AD) (P < .05). Furthermore, no clear differences in TCF7L2 and MYC mRNA were found in brains with frontotemporal lobar degeneration, suggesting that altered regulation of these Wnt-related genes could be specific to AD. Finally, mRNA levels of three neurogenesis markers were analyzed. Increased mRNA levels of dihydropyrimidinase-like 3 were observed in AD brain, suggesting that altered Wnt pathway regulation may signify synaptic rearrangement or neurogenesis.
Recently, the P86L alteration in CALHM1 (calcium homeostasis modulator-1) was reported to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Moreover, the risk allele increased amyloid-β (Aβ) levels in conditioned media from cultured cells. Therefore, we hypothesized that CALHM1 P86L may modulate Aβ or tau levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Nearly 200 individuals with AD or other cognitive disorders were included for CSF analysis and CALHM1 genotyping. No significant differences in CSF levels of Aβ42, tau or phospho-tau were found across the various CALHM1 genotypes. In conclusion, we found no evidence that CALHM1 P86L is associated with altered CSF levels of the investigated AD biomarkers.
CALHM1; Calcium homeostasis modulator-1; Amyloid-β; Alzheimer’s disease; Cerebrospinal fluid; Biomarker; Total tau; Phospho-tau; Genotyping SNP
Amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) plaques, one of the major neuropathological lesions in Alzheimer's disease (AD), can be broadly subdivided into two morphological categories: neuritic and diffuse. Heparan sulfate (HS) and HS proteoglycans (HSPGs) are codeposits of multiple amyloidoses, including AD. Although HS has been considered a limiting factor in the initiation of amyloid deposition, the pathological implications of HS in Aβ deposits of AD remain unclear. In this study, immunohistochemistry combined with fluorescence and confocal microscopy was employed to gain deeper insight into the accumulation of HS with Aβ plaques in sporadic and familial AD. Here we demonstrate that HS preferentially accumulated around the Aβ40 dense cores of neuritic plaques, but was largely absent from diffuse Aβ42 plaques, suggesting that Aβ42 deposition may occur independently of HS. A codeposition pattern of HS with Aβ deposits in Tg2576 mice was also examined. We identified the membrane-bound HSPGs, glypican-1 (GPC1) and syndecan-3 (SDC3), in glial cells associated with Aβ deposits, proximal to sites of HS accumulation. In mouse primary glial cultures, we observed increased levels of GPC1 and SDC3 following Aβ stimulation. These results suggest that HS codeposits with Aβ40 in neuritic plaques and is mainly derived from glial cells.
b-Amyloid; glial cells; heparan sulfate
The amyloid β-protein (Aβ) is believed to be the key mediator of Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. Aβ is most often characterized as an incidental catabolic byproduct that lacks a normal physiological role. However, Aβ has been shown to be a specific ligand for a number of different receptors and other molecules, transported by complex trafficking pathways, modulated in response to a variety of environmental stressors, and able to induce pro-inflammatory activities.
Here, we provide data supporting an in vivo function for Aβ as an antimicrobial peptide (AMP). Experiments used established in vitro assays to compare antimicrobial activities of Aβ and LL-37, an archetypical human AMP. Findings reveal that Aβ exerts antimicrobial activity against eight common and clinically relevant microorganisms with a potency equivalent to, and in some cases greater than, LL-37. Furthermore, we show that AD whole brain homogenates have significantly higher antimicrobial activity than aged matched non-AD samples and that AMP action correlates with tissue Aβ levels. Consistent with Aβ-mediated activity, the increased antimicrobial action was ablated by immunodepletion of AD brain homogenates with anti-Aβ antibodies.
Our findings suggest Aβ is a hitherto unrecognized AMP that may normally function in the innate immune system. This finding stands in stark contrast to current models of Aβ-mediated pathology and has important implications for ongoing and future AD treatment strategies.
The presence of AβpE3 (N-terminal truncated Aβ starting with pyroglutamate) in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has received considerable attention since the discovery that this peptide represents a dominant fraction of Aβ peptides in senile plaques of AD brains. This was later confirmed by other reports investigating AD and Down’s syndrome postmortem brain tissue. Importantly, AβpE3 has a higher aggregation propensity, and stability, and shows an increased toxicity compared to full-length Aβ. We have recently shown that intraneuronal accumulation of AβpE3 peptides induces a severe neuron loss and an associated neurological phenotype in the TBA2 mouse model for AD. Given the increasing interest in AβpE3, we have generated two novel monoclonal antibodies which were characterized as highly specific for AβpE3 peptides and herein used to analyze plaque deposition in APP/PS1KI mice, an AD model with severe neuron loss and learning deficits. This was compared with the plaque pattern present in brain tissue from sporadic and familial AD cases. Abundant plaques positive for AβpE3 were present in patients with sporadic AD and familial AD including those carrying mutations in APP (arctic and Swedish) and PS1. Interestingly, in APP/PS1KI mice we observed a continuous increase in AβpE3 plaque load with increasing age, while the density for Aβ1-x plaques declined with aging. We therefore assume that, in particular, the peptides starting with position 1 of Aβ are N-truncated as disease progresses, and that, AβpE3 positive plaques are resistant to age-dependent degradation likely due to their high stability and propensity to aggregate.
Transgenic mice; Arctic mutation; Swedish mutation; Presenilin-1 mutation; Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease; Pyroglutamate Abeta; Biacore; Antibody specificity
A majority of mutations within the amyloid β (Aβ) region of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene cause inherited forms of intracerebral haemorrhage. Most of these mutations may also cause cognitive impairment, but the Arctic APP mutation is the only known intra-Aβ mutation to date causing the more typical clinical picture of Alzheimer's disease (AD).
To describe features of one Swedish and one American family with the previously reported Arctic APP mutation.
Affected and non-affected carriers of the Arctic APP mutation from the Swedish and American families were investigated clinically. In addition, one brain from each family was investigated neuropathologically.
The clinical picture, with age at disease onset in the sixth to seventh decade of life and dysfunction in multiple cognitive areas, is indicative of AD and similar to the phenotype for other AD APP mutations. Several affected mutation carriers displayed general brain atrophy and reduced blood flow of the parietal lobe, as demonstrated by magnetic resonance imaging and single photon emission computed tomography. One Swedish and one American case with the Arctic APP mutation have come to autopsy, neither of which showed any signs of haemorrhage but revealed severe congophilic angiopathy, region-specific neurofibrillary tangle pathology as well as abundant amyloid plaques. Intriguingly, a majority of plaques from both of these cases had a characteristic ring-like character.
Overall, our findings corroborate that the Arctic APP mutation causes a clinical and neuropathological picture compatible with AD.
Familial Alzheimer's disease; APP gene mutations; Arctic mutation; cerebral amyloid angiopathy; dementia; genealogy