Synthetic a-Synuclein fibrils injected into the brain spread far beyond the injection site and are sufficient to accelerate Parkinson’s disease–like pathology in mice.
The accumulation of misfolded proteins is a fundamental pathogenic process in neurodegenerative diseases. However, the factors that trigger aggregation of α-Synuclein (α-Syn), the principal component of the intraneuronal inclusions known as Lewy bodies (LBs), and Lewy neurites (LNs), which characterize Parkinson’s disease (PD) and dementia with LBs (DLB), are poorly understood. We show here that in young asymptomatic α-Syn transgenic (Tg) mice, intracerebral injections of brain homogenates derived from older Tg mice exhibiting α-Syn pathology accelerate both the formation of intracellular LB/LN-like inclusions and the onset of neurological symptoms in recipient animals. Pathological α-Syn propagated along major central nervous system (CNS) pathways to regions far beyond injection sites and reduced survival with a highly reproducible interval from injection to death in inoculated animals. Importantly, inoculation with α-Syn amyloid fibrils assembled from recombinant human α-Syn induced identical consequences. Furthermore, we show for the first time that synthetic α-Syn fibrils are wholly sufficient to initiate PD-like LBs/LNs and to transmit disease in vivo. Thus, our data point to a prion-like cascade in synucleinopathies whereby cell–cell transmission and propagation of misfolded α-Syn underlie the CNS spread of LBs/LNs. These findings open up new avenues for understanding the progression of PD and for developing novel therapeutics.
The assembly of tau proteins into paired helical filaments, the building blocks of neurofibrillary tangles, is linked to neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease and related tauopathies. A greater understanding of this assembly process could identify targets for the discovery of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Using recombinant human tau, we have delineated events leading to the conversion of normal soluble tau into tau fibrils
Atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy methodologies were utilized to determine the structure of tau assemblies that formed when soluble tau was incubated with heparin for increasing lengths of time.
Tau initially oligomerizes into spherical nucleation units of 18–21 nm diameter that appear to assemble linearly into nascent fibrils. Among the earliest tau fibrils are species that resemble a string of beads formed by linearly aligned spheres that with time seem to coalesce to form straight and twisted ribbon-like filaments, as well as paired-helical filaments similar to those found in human tauopathies. An analysis of fibril cross-sections at later incubation times revealed three fundamental axial structural features.
By monitoring tau fibrillization, we show that different tau filament morphologies co-exist. Temporal changes in the predominant tau structural species suggest that tau fibrillization involves the generation of structural intermediates, resulting in the formation of tau fibrils with verisimilitude to their authentic human counterparts.
Alzheimer’s disease; tauopathy; amyloid; tangles; neurodegeneration
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) are characterized by cytoplasmic protein aggregates in the brain and spinal cord that include TAR-DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43). TDP-43 is normally localized in the nucleus with roles in the regulation of gene expression, and pathological cytoplasmic aggregates are associated with depletion of nuclear protein. Here, we generated transgenic mice expressing human TDP-43 with a defective nuclear localization signal in the forebrain (hTDP-43-ΔNLS), and compared them with mice expressing WT hTDP-43 (hTDP-43-WT) to determine the effects of mislocalized cytoplasmic TDP-43 on neuronal viability. Expression of either hTDP-43-ΔNLS or hTDP-43-WT led to neuron loss in selectively vulnerable forebrain regions, corticospinal tract degeneration, and motor spasticity recapitulating key aspects of FTLD and primary lateral sclerosis. Only rare cytoplasmic phosphorylated and ubiquitinated TDP-43 inclusions were seen in hTDP-43-ΔNLS mice, suggesting that cytoplasmic inclusions were not required to induce neuronal death. Instead, neurodegeneration in hTDP-43 and hTDP-43-ΔNLS–expressing neurons was accompanied by a dramatic downregulation of the endogenous mouse TDP-43. Moreover, mice expressing hTDP-43-ΔNLS exhibited profound changes in gene expression in cortical neurons. Our data suggest that perturbation of endogenous nuclear TDP-43 results in loss of normal TDP-43 function(s) and gene regulatory pathways, culminating in degeneration of selectively vulnerable affected neurons.
Transgenic (Tg) mouse models of Parkinson’s disease (PD) generated to date have primarily been designed to overexpress human alpha-synuclein (α–syn) to recapitulate PD-like motor impairments as well as PD-like nigro-striatal degeneration and α–syn pathology. However, cognitive impairments and cortical α–syn pathology also are common in PD patients. To model these features of PD, we created forebrain-specific conditional Tg mice that overexpress human wild type (WT) or A53T mutant α–syn. Here we show that both WT and A53T mutant α–syn lead to massive degeneration of postmitotic neurons in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) during postnatal development, with hippocampal synapse loss as evidenced by reduced levels of pre- and postsynaptic markers. However, when mutant and WT α–syn expression was repressed until the Tg mice were mature postnatally and then induced for several months, no hippocampal neuron loss was observed. These data imply that developing neurons are more vulnerable to degenerate than mature neurons as a consequence of forebrain WT and mutant α–syn overexpression.
α -synuclein; Parkinson’s disease; conditional transgenic mouse; hippocampus; dentate gyrus; postnatal development
Tau is a microtubule-associated protein that promotes microtubule assembly and stability. In Alzheimer's disease and related tauopathies, tau fibrillizes and aggregates into neurofibrillary tangles. Recently, oleocanthal isolated from extra virgin olive oil was found to display non-steroidal anti-inflammatory activity similar to ibuprofen. Since our unpublished data indicates an inhibitory effect of oleocanthal on Aβ fibrillization, we reasoned that it might inhibit tau fibrillization as well. Herein we demonstrate that oleocanthal abrogates fibrillization of tau by locking tau into the naturally unfolded state. Using PHF6 consisting of the amino acid residues VQIVYK, a hexapeptide within the third repeat of tau that is essential for fibrillization, we show that oleocanthal forms an adduct with the lysine via initial Schiff base formation. Structure and function studies demonstrate that the two aldehyde groups of oleocanthal are required for the inhibitory activity. These two aldehyde groups show certain specificity when titrated with free lysine and oleocanthal does not significantly affect the normal function of tau. These findings provide a potential scheme for the development of novel therapies for neurodegenerative tauopathies.
tau; fibrillization; neurodegeneration; oleocanthal; aldehyde; lysine
To examine the neuropathological substrates of cognitive dysfunction and dementia in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
140 patients with a clinical diagnosis of PD and either normal cognition or onset of dementia two or more years after motor symptoms (PDD) were studied. Patients with a clinical diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies were excluded.
Autopsy records of genetic data and semi-quantitative scores for the burden of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), senile plaques (SPs), Lewy body (LB/LN) and other pathologies were used to develop a multivariate logistic regression model to determine the independent association of these variables with dementia. Correlates of co-morbid Alzheimer’s disease (PDD+AD) were also examined.
92 PD patients developed dementia and 48 remained cognitively normal. Severity of cortical LB/LN (CLB/LN) pathology was positively associated with dementia (p<0.001), with an odds-ratio (OR) of 4.06 (CI95%1.87–8.81), as was Apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) genotype (p=0.018,OR4.19 CI95% 1.28–13.75). 28.6% of all PD cases had sufficient pathology for co-morbid AD, of which 89.5% were demented. The neuropathological diagnosis of PDD+AD correlated with an older age of PD onset (p=0.001,OR1.12 CI95%1.04–1.21), higher CLB/LN burden (p=0.037,OR 2.48 CI95%1.06–5.82), and cerebral amyloid angiopathy severity (p=0.032, OR4.16 CI95%1.13–15.30).
CLB/LN pathology is the most significant correlate of dementia in PD. Additionally, APOE4 genotype may independently influence the risk of dementia in PD. AD pathology was abundant in a subset of patients, and may modify the clinical phenotype. Thus, therapies that target α-synuclein, tau, or Aβ could potentially improve cognitive performance in PD.
The discovery that mutations within the tau gene lead to frontotemporal dementia with Parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17) provided direct evidence that tau alterations can lead to neurodegenerative disease. While the presence of tau fibrils and tangles is a common feature of all tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), data are emerging from biochemical, cell-based and transgenic mouse studies which suggest that a pre-fibrillar form of pathological tau may play a key role in eliciting central nervous system (CNS) neurodegeneration and behavioral impairments. Herein we review recent findings that implicate diffusible tau pathology in the onset of neurodegeneration, and discuss the implications of these findings as they relate to tau tangles and possible therapeutic strategies for the treatment of AD and related tauopathies.
Fibrils; Neurodegeneration; Oligomers; Tangles; Tau; Transgenic
Molecular chaperones of the heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) family counteract protein misfolding in a variety of neurodegenerative disease models. To determine whether human Hsp70 exerts similar effects on the aggregation of alpha-synuclein (α-Syn), the key component of insoluble fibrils present in Parkinson’s disease, we investigated α-Syn fibril assembly in the presence of Hsp70. We found in vitro assembly was efficiently inhibited by substoichiometric concentrations of purified Hsp70 in the absence of co-factors. Experiments using α-Syn deletion mutants indicated that interactions between the Hsp70 substrate binding domain and the α-Syn core hydrophobic region underlie assembly inhibition. This assembly process was inhibited prior to the elongation stage as we failed to detect any fibrils by electron microscopy. In addition, fluorescence polarization and binding assays suggest that Hsp70 recognizes soluble α-Syn species in a highly dynamic and reversible manner. Together, these results provide novel insights into how Hsp70 suppresses α-Syn aggregation. Furthermore, our findings suggest that this critical step in Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis may be subject to modulation by a common molecular chaperone.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is most commonly associated with TAR-DNA binding protein (TDP-43) or tau pathology at autopsy, but there are no in vivo biomarkers reliably discriminating between sporadic cases. As disease-modifying treatments emerge, it is critical to accurately identify underlying pathology in living patients so that they can be entered into appropriate etiology-directed clinical trials. Patients with tau inclusions (FTLD-TAU) appear to have relatively greater white matter (WM) disease at autopsy than those patients with TDP-43 (FTLD-TDP). In this paper, we investigate the ability of white matter (WM) imaging to help discriminate between FTLD-TAU and FTLD-TDP during life using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Patients with autopsy-confirmed disease or a genetic mutation consistent with FTLD-TDP or FTLD-TAU underwent multimodal T1 volumetric MRI and diffusion weighted imaging scans. We quantified cortical thickness in GM and fractional anisotropy (FA) in WM. We performed Eigenanatomy, a statistically robust dimensionality reduction algorithm, and used leave-one-out cross-validation to predict underlying pathology. Neuropathological assessment of GM and WM disease burden was performed in the autopsy-cases to confirm our findings of an ante-mortem GM and WM dissociation in the neuroimaging cohort.
ROC curve analyses evaluated classification accuracy in individual patients and revealed 96% sensitivity and 100% specificity for WM analyses. FTLD-TAU had significantly more WM degeneration and inclusion severity at autopsy relative to FTLD-TDP.
These neuroimaging and neuropathological investigations provide converging evidence for greater WM burden associated with FTLD-TAU, and emphasize the role of WM neuroimaging for in vivo discrimination between FTLD-TAU and FTLD-TDP.
Over the past decade it has become clear that there is significant overlap in the clinical spectrum of frontotemporal lobar degeneration and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The identification of TDP-43 as the major disease protein in the pathology of both frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin inclusions and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis provides the first molecular link for these diseases. Pathological TDP-43 is abnormally phosphorylated, ubiquitinated, and cleaved to generate carboxy-terminal fragments in affected brain regions. The normal nuclear expression of TDP-43 is also reduced leading to the hypothesis that sequestration of TDP-43 in pathological inclusions contributes to disease pathogenesis. Thus, TDP-43 is the newest member of the growing list of neurodegenerative proteinopathies, but unique in that it lacks features of brain amyloidosis.
Aggregated α-synuclein (α-syn) fibrils form Lewy bodies (LBs), the signature lesions of Parkinson's disease (PD) and related synucleinopathies, but the pathogenesis and neurodegenerative effects of LBs remain enigmatic. Recent studies have shown that when overexpressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, α-syn localizes to plasma membranes and forms cytoplasmic accumulations similar to human α-syn inclusions. However, the exact nature, composition, temporal evolution, and underlying mechanisms of yeast α-syn accumulations and their relevance to human synucleinopathies are unknown. Here we provide ultrastructural evidence that α-syn accumulations are not comprised of LB-like fibrils, but are associated with clusters of vesicles. Live-cell imaging showed α-syn initially localized to the plasma membrane and subsequently formed accumulations in association with vesicles. Imaging of truncated and mutant forms of α-syn revealed the molecular determinants and vesicular trafficking pathways underlying this pathological process. Because vesicular clustering is also found in LB-containing neurons of PD brains, α-syn–mediated vesicular accumulation in yeast represents a model system to study specific aspects of neurodegeneration in PD and related synucleinopathies.
Introducing mutations within the amyloid precursor protein (APP) that affect β- and γ-secretase cleavages results in amyloid plaque formation in vivo. However, the relationship between β-amyloid deposition and the subcellular site of Aβ production is unknown. To determine the effect of increasing β-secretase (BACE) activity on Aβ deposition, we generated transgenic mice overexpressing human BACE. Although modest overexpression enhanced amyloid deposition, high BACE overexpression inhibited amyloid formation despite increased β-cleavage of APP. However, high BACE expression shifted the subcellular location of APP cleavage to the neuronal perikarya early in the secretory pathway. These results suggest that the production, clearance, and aggregation of Aβ peptides are highly dependent on the specific neuronal subcellular domain wherein Aβ is generated and highlight the importance of perikaryal versus axonal APP proteolysis in the development of Aβ amyloid pathology in Alzheimer's disease.
Presenilin-1 null mutation (PS1 −/−) in mice is associated with morphological alterations and defects in cleavage of transmembrane proteins. Here, we demonstrate that PS1 deficiency also leads to the formation of degradative vacuoles and to the aberrant translocation of presynaptic α- and β-synuclein proteins to these organelles in the perikarya of primary neurons, concomitant with significant increases in the levels of both synucleins. Stimulation of autophagy in control neurons produced a similar mislocalization of synucleins as genetic ablation of PS1. These effects were not the result of the loss of PS1 γ-secretase activity; however, dysregulation of calcium channels in PS1 −/− cells may be involved. Finally, colocalization of α-synuclein and degradative organelles was observed in brains from patients with the Lewy body variant of AD. Thus, aberrant accumulation of α- and β-synuclein in degradative organelles are novel features of PS1 −/− neurons, and similar events may promote the formation of α-synuclein inclusions associated with neurodegenerative diseases.
autophagy; calcium dysregulation; neurodegenerative diseases
The interassay variability and inconsistency of plasma β-amyloid (Aβ) measurements among centers are major factors precluding the interpretation of results and a substantial obstacle in the meta-analysis across studies of this biomarker. The goal of this investigation was to address these problems by improving the performance of the bioanalytical method.
We used the Luminex immunoassay platform with a multiplex microsphere-based reagent kit from Innogenetics. A robotic pipetting system was used to perform crucial steps of the procedure. The performance of this method was evaluated using two kit control samples and two quality control plasma samples from volunteer donors, and by retesting previously assayed patient samples in each run. This setup was applied to process 2454 patient plasma samples from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study biofluid repository. We have additionally evaluated the correlations between our results and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker data using mixed-effects modeling.
The average precision values of the kit controls were 8.3% for Aβ1-40 and 4.0% for Aβ1-42, whereas the values for the plasma quality controls were 6.4% for Aβ1-40 and 4.8% for Aβ1-42. From the test–retest evaluation, the average precision was 7.2% for Aβ1-40 and 4.5% for Aβ1-42. The range of final plasma results for Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative patients was 13 to 372 pg/mL (median: 164 pg/mL) for Aβ1-40 and 3.5 to 103 pg/mL (median: 39.3 pg/mL) for Aβ1-42. We found that sample collection parameters (blood volume and time to freeze) have a small, but significant, influence on the result. No significant difference was found between plasma Aβ levels for patients with Alzheimer's disease and healthy control subjects. We have determined multiple significant correlations of plasma Aβ1-42 levels with CSF biomarkers. The relatively strongest, although modest, correlation was found between plasma Aβ1-42 levels and CSF p-tau181/Aβ1-42 ratio in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Plasma Aβ1-40 correlations with CSF biomarkers were weaker and diminished completely when we used longitudinal data. No significant correlations were found for the plasma Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40 ratio.
The precision of our robotized method represents a substantial improvement over results reported in the literature. Multiple significant correlations between plasma and CSF biomarkers were found. Although these correlations are not strong enough to support the use of plasma Aβ measurement as a diagnostic screening test, plasma Aβ1-42 levels are well suited for use as a pharmacodynamic marker.
β-amyloid; Longitudinal; Plasma; xMAP immunoassay; ADNI study subjects; Robotic pipetting
Neurons within the brains of those with AD (Alzheimer’s disease) and related neurodegenerative disorders, collectively termed ‘tauopathies’, contain fibrillar inclusions composed of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. Tau is normally enriched in axons, where it binds and stabilizes MTs (microtubules). Tau hyperphosphorylation and aggregation probably result in reduced MT binding that could affect axonal transport and neuronal function. A possible therapeutic strategy to overcome a loss of tau function in tauopathies is administration of MT-stabilizing agents, such as those used in the treatment of cancer. However, these drugs elicit severe side effects, and most existing MT-stabilizing compounds have poor BBB (blood–brain barrier) permeability, which renders them unsuitable for tauopathy treatment. We identified EpoD (epothilone D) as a brain-penetrant MT-stabilizing agent with preferred pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties. EpoD was evaluated for its ability to compensate for tau loss-of-function in an established Tg (transgenic) mouse model, using both preventative and interventional dosing paradigms. EpoD at doses much lower than previously used in human cancer patients caused improved axonal MT density and decreased axonal dystrophy in the tau Tg mice, leading to an alleviation of cognitive deficits. Moreover, EpoD reduced the extent of tau pathology in aged tau Tg mice. Importantly, no adverse side effects were observed in the EpoD-treated mice. These results suggest that EpoD might be a viable drug candidate for the treatment of AD and related tauopathies.
Alzheimer’s disease; axon; microtubule; tauopathy; therapeutic agent
To utilize values of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau and ß-amyloid obtained from two different analytical immunoassays to differentiate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
CSF values of total tau (t-tau) and ß-amyloid (Aß1-42) obtained using the INNOTEST® ELISA were transformed using a linear regression model to equivalent values obtained using the INNO-BIA AlzBio3™ (xMAP Luminex) assay. Cutoff values obtained from the xMAP assay were developed in a series of autopsy-confirmed cases and cross-validated in another series of autopsy-confirmed samples using transformed ELISA values to assess sensitivity and specificity for differentiating AD from FTLD.
Tertiary memory disorders clinics and neuropathological and biomarker core centers.
75 samples from patients with CSF data obtained from both assays were used for transformation of ELISA values. 40 autopsy-confirmed cases (30 AD, 10 FTLD) were used to establish diagnostic cutoff values, and then cross-validated in a second sample set of 21 autopsy-confirmed cases (11 AD, 10 FTLD) with transformed ELISA values.
Main outcome measure
Diagnostic accuracy using transformed biomarker values.
Data obtained from both assays were highly correlated. The t-tau:Aß1-42 ratio had the highest correlation between measures (r=0.928, p<0.001) and high reliability of transformation (ICC=0.89). A cutoff of 0.34 for the t-tau:Aß1-42 ratio had 90% and 100% sensitivity and 96.7% and 91% specificity to differentiate FTLD cases in the validation and cross-validation samples, respectively.
Values from two analytical platforms can be transformed into equivalent units, which can distinguish AD from FTLD more accurately than the clinical diagnosis.
Growing evidence of cell-to-cell transmission of neurodegenerative disease (ND)–associated proteins (NDAPs) (ie, tau, Aβ, and α-synuclein) suggests possible similarities in the infectious prion protein (PrPsc) in spongiform encephalopathies. There are limited data on the potential human-to-human transmission of NDAPs associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) and other non-PrPsc ND.
To examine evidence for human-to-human transmission of AD, Parkinson disease (PD), and related NDAPs in cadaveric human growth hormone (c-hGH) recipients.
We conducted a detailed immunohistochemical analysis of pathological NDAPs other than PrPsc in human pituitary glands. We also searched for ND in recipients of pituitary-derived c-hGH by reviewing the National Hormone and Pituitary Program (NHPP) cohort database and medical literature.
University-based academic center and agencies of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Thirty-four routine autopsy subjects (10 non-ND controls and 24 patients with ND) and a US cohort of c-hGH recipients in the NHPP.
Main Outcome Measures
Detectable NDAPs in human pituitary sections and death certificate reports of non-PrPsc ND in the NHPP database.
We found mild amounts of pathological tau, Aβ, and α-synuclein deposits in the adeno/neurohypophysis of patients with ND and control patients. No cases of AD or PD were identified, and 3 deaths attributed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) were found among US NHPP c-hGH recipients, including 2 of the 796 decedents in the originally confirmed NHPP c-hGH cohort database.
Conclusions and Relevance
Despite the likely frequent exposure of c-hGH recipients to NDAPs, and their markedly elevated risk of PrPsc-related disease, this population of NHPP c-hGH recipients does not appear to be at increased risk of AD or PD. We discovered 3 ALS cases of unclear significance among US c-hGH recipients despite the absence of pathological deposits of ALS-associated proteins (TDP-43, FUS, and ubiquilin) in human pituitary glands. In this unique in vivo model of human-to-human transmission, we found no evidence to support concerns that NDAPs underlying AD and PD transmit disease in humans despite evidence of their cell-to-cell transmission in model systems of these disorders. Further monitoring is required to confirm these conclusions.
There is epidemiological evidence that cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) also are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, but there is limited information on this from neuro-pathological studies, and even less from in vivo studies. Therefore, we examined the relationship between CVRF and amyloid-β (Aβ) brain burden measured by Pittsburgh Compound B-positron emission tomography (PiB-PET) studies in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.
Ninety-nine subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative cohort who had a PiB-PET study measure, apolipoprotein E genotyping data, and information available on CVRF (body mass index [BMI], systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure [DBP1 and cholesterol and fasting glucose test results) were included. Eighty-one subjects also had plasma cortisol C-reactive protein, and superoxide dismutase 1 measurements. Stepwise regression models were used to assess the relation between the CVRF and the composite PiB-PET score.
The first model included the following as baseline variables: age, clinical diagnosis, number of apolipoprotein ε4 alleles, BMI (P = .023), and DBP (P = .012). BMI showed an inverse relation with PiB-PET score, and DBP had a positive relation with PiB-PET score. In the second adjusted model, cortisol plasma levels were also associated with PiB-PET score (P = .004). Systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, or impaired fasting glucose were not found to be associated with PiB-PET values.
In this cross-sectional study, we found an association between Aβ brain burden measured in vivo and DBP and cortisol, indicating a possible link between these CVRF and Aβ burden measured by PiB-PET. These findings highlight the utility of biomarkers to explore potential pathways linking diverse Alzheimer’s disease risk factors.
Alzheimer disease; Vascular risk factors; PiB; Amyloid-β; Cortisol; Blood pressure; Body mass index
The best-studied biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are the pathologically linked CSF proteins β-amyloid 42 (Aβ1–42), total tau (t-tau), and tau phosphorylated on amino acid 181 (p-tau181). Many laboratories measure these proteins using Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA). Multiplex xMAP Luminex is a semi-automated assay platform with reduced intra-sample variance, which could facilitate its use in CLIA-approved clinical laboratories. CSF concentrations of these three biomarkers reported using xMAP technology differ from those measured by the most commonly used ELISA, confounding attempts to compare results. To develop a model for converting between xMAP and ELISA levels of the three biomarkers, we analyzed CSF samples from 140 subjects (59 AD, 30 controls, 34 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 17 with Parkinson Disease, including 1 with dementia). Log-transformation of ELISA and xMAP levels made the variance constant in all three biomarkers and improved the linear regression: t-tau concentrations were highly correlated (r=0.94); p-tau181 concentrations by ELISA can be better predicted using both the t-tau and p-tau181 xMAP values (r=0.96) as compared to p-tau181 concentrations alone (r=0.82); correlation of Aβ1–42 concentrations was relatively weaker but still high (r=0.77). Among all six protein/assay combinations, xMAP Aβ1–42 had the best accuracy for diagnostic classification (88%) between AD and control subjects. In conclusion, our study demonstrates that multiplex xMAP is an appropriate assay platform providing results that can be correlated with research-based ELISA values, facilitating the incorporation of this diagnostic biomarker into routine clinical practice.
Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA); Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); Alzheimer’s Disease
Pathologic TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a disease protein in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We studied the presence, frequency, and distribution of TDP-43 pathology by immunohistochemistry and biochemistry in a series of clinically well-characterized tauopathy patient brains, including 182 Alzheimer disease (AD), 39 corticobasal degeneration, 77 progressive supranuclear palsy, and 12 Pick disease cases and investigated the clinical impact of concomitant TDP-43 pathology in these cases. TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 pathology was found in 25.8% of AD cases. It was restricted to the dentate gyrus and entorhinal cortex in approximately 75% of cases; approximately 25% showed more widespread TDP-43 pathology in frontal and temporal cortices, resembling the FTLD-U subtype associated with progranulin mutations. TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 pathology in AD was associated with significantly longer disease duration, but there was no association with the clinical presentation (148 cases diagnosed as AD and 34 cases diagnosed as frontotemporal lobar degeneration). Progressive supranuclear palsy and Pick disease cases showed no TDP-43 inclusions and no biochemical alterations of TDP-43. There was, however, a unique, predominantly glial TDP-43 pathology with staining of astrocytic plaque-like structures and coiled bodies in 15.4% of corticobasal degeneration cases; this was associated with biochemical TDP-43 changes similar to those in FTLD-U. These findings provide further insight into the burden and clinical significance of TDP-43 pathology in disorders other than FTLD-U and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Alzheimer disease; Corticobasal degeneration; Frontotemporal dementia; Tauopathy; TDP-43
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by abundant α-Synuclein (α-Syn) neuronal inclusions known as Lewy-bodies and Lewy-neurites, and the massive loss of midbrain dopamine neurons. However, a cause-and-effect relationship between Lewy inclusion formation and neurodegeneration remains unclear. Here we found that in wildtype non-transgenic mice a single intrastriatal inoculation of synthetic α-Syn fibrils led to the cell-to-cell transmission of pathologic α-Syn and Parkinson’s-like Lewy pathology in anatomically interconnected regions. Lewy pathology accumulation resulted in progressive loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta, but not in the adjacent ventral tegmental area, and was accompanied by reduced dopamine levels culminating in motor deficits. This recapitulation of a neurodegenerative cascade thus establishes a mechanistic link between transmission of pathologic α-Syn and the cardinal features of Parkinson’s disease.
The microtubule-binding protein, tau, is the major component of neurofibrillary inclusions characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and related neurodegenerative tauopathies. When tau fibrillizes, it undergoes abnormal post-translational modifications resulting in decreased solubility and altered microtubule-stabilizing properties. Recently, we reported that the abnormal acetylation of tau at lysine residue 280 is a novel, pathological post-translational modification. Here, we performed detailed immunohistochemistry to further examine acetylated-tau expression in Alzheimer's disease and other major tauopathies. Immunohistochemistry using a polyclonal antibody specific for acetylated-tau at lysine 280 was conducted on 30 post-mortem central nervous system regions from patients with Alzheimer's disease (10 patients), corticobasal degeneration (5 patients), and progressive supranuclear palsy (5 patients). Acetylated-tau pathology was compared with the sequential emergence of other tau modifications in the Alzheimer's disease hippocampus using monoclonal antibodies to multiple well-characterized tau epitopes. All cases studied showed significant acetylated-tau pathology in a distribution pattern similar to hyperphosphorylated-tau. Acetylated-tau pathology was largely in intracellular, thioflavin-S-positive tau inclusions in Alzheimer's disease, and also thioflavin-S-negative pathology in corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy. Acetylated-tau was present throughout all stages of Alzheimer's disease pathology, but was more prominently associated with pathological tau epitopes in moderate to severe-stage cases. These temporal and morphological immunohistochemical features suggest acetylation of tau at this epitope is preceded by early modifications, including phosphorylation, and followed by later truncation events and cell death in Alzheimer's disease. Acetylation of tau at lysine 280 is a pathological modification that may contribute to tau-mediated neurodegeneration by both augmenting losses of normal tau properties (reduced solubility and microtubule assembly) as well as toxic gains of function (increased tau fibrillization). Thus, inhibiting tau acetylation could be a disease-modifying target for drug discovery target in tauopathies.
Alzheimer's disease; tauopathy; acetylation; post-translational modification; tau
Tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with tau pathologies, are neurodegenerative diseases characterized by neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) comprised of filamentous tau protein. Although emerging evidence suggests tau pathology may be transmitted, we demonstrate here that synthetic tau fibrils are sufficient to transmit tau inclusions in a mouse model. Specifically, intracerebral inoculation of young PS19 mice overexpressing mutant human tau (P301S) with synthetic preformed fibrils (pffs) assembled from recombinant full length tau or truncated tau containing four microtubule binding repeats resulted in rapid induction of NFT-like inclusions which propagated from injected sites to connected brain regions in a time-dependent manner. Interestingly, injection of tau pffs into either hippocampus or striatum together with overlaying cortex gave rise to distinct pattern of spreading. Moreover, unlike tau pathology that spontaneously develops in old PS19 mice, the pff-induced tau inclusions more closely resembled AD NFTs because they were Thioflavin-S positive, acetylated and more resistant to proteinase K digestion. Taken together, our study demonstrates that synthetic tau pffs alone are capable of inducing authentic NFT-like tau aggregates and initiating prion-like spreading of tau pathology in a tauopathy mouse model.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease with no available treatments. Mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN) causing impaired production or secretion of progranulin are a common Mendelian cause of FTLD-TDP; additionally, common variants at chromosome 7p21 in the uncharacterized gene TMEM106B were recently linked by genome-wide association to FTLD-TDP with and without GRN mutations. Here we show that TMEM106B is neuronally expressed in postmortem human brain tissue, and that expression levels are increased in FTLD-TDP brain. Furthermore, using an unbiased, microarray-based screen of over 800 microRNAs, we identify microRNA-132 as the top microRNA differentiating FTLD-TDP and control brains, with <50% normal expression levels of three members of the microRNA-132 cluster (microRNA-132, microRNA-132*, and microRNA-212) in disease. Computational analyses, corroborated empirically, demonstrate that the top mRNA target of both microRNA-132 and microRNA-212 is TMEM106B; both microRNAs repress TMEM106B expression through shared microRNA-132/212 binding sites in the TMEM106B 3’UTR. Increasing TMEM106B expression to model disease results in enlargement and poor acidification of endo-lysosomes, as well as impairment of mannose-6-phosphate-receptor trafficking. Finally, endogenous neuronal TMEM106B co-localizes with progranulin in late endo-lysosomes, and TMEM106B over-expression increases intracellular levels of progranulin. Thus, TMEM106B is an FTLD-TDP risk gene, with microRNA-132/212 depression as an event which can lead to aberrant over-expression of TMEM106B, which in turn alters progranulin pathways. Evidence for this pathogenic cascade includes the striking convergence of two independent, genomic-scale screens on a microRNA:mRNA regulatory pair. Our findings open novel directions for elucidating miRNA-based therapies in FTLD-TDP.
Frontotemporal dementia; microRNA-132; microRNA-212; progranulin; TDP-43; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; TMEM106B