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1.  Experimental manipulations of microglia in mouse models of Alzheimer’s pathology. Activation reduces amyloid but hastens tau pathology 
The inflammation hypothesis of Alzheimer’s pathogenesis has directed much scientific effort towards ameliorating this disease. The development of mouse models of amyloid deposition permitted direct tests of the proposal that amyloid-activated microglia could cause neurodegeneration in vivo. Many approaches to manipulating microglial activation have been applied to these mouse models, and are the subject of this review. In general, these results do not support a direct neuricidal action of microglia in mouse amyloid models under any activation state. Some of the manipulations cause both a reduction in pathology, and a reduction in microglial activation. However, at least for agents like ibuprofen, this outcome may result from a direct action on amyloid production, and a reduction in the microglial provoking amyloid deposits, rather than from reduced microglial activation leading to a decline in amyloid deposition. Instead, a surprising number of the experimental manipulations which increase microglial activation lead to enhanced clearance of the amyloid deposits. Both the literature and new data presented here suggest that either classical or alternative activation of microglia can lead to enhanced amyloid clearance. However, a limited number of studies comparing the same treatments in amyloid-depositing vs tau-depositing mice find the opposite effects. Treatments that benefit amyloid pathology accelerate tau pathology. This observation argues strongly that potential treatments be tested for impact on both amyloid and tau pathology before consideration of testing in humans.
PMCID: PMC4300851  PMID: 23171029
cytokines; chemokines; neuroimmunology; tauopathy; inflammation; toll-like receptors; complement; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
2.  Epitope analysis following active immunization with tau proteins reveals immunogens implicated in tau pathogenesis 
Abnormal tau hyperphosphorylation and its accumulation into intra-neuronal neurofibrillary tangles are linked to neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease and similar tauopathies. One strategy to reduce accumulation is through immunization, but the most immunogenic tau epitopes have so far remained unknown. To fill this gap, we immunized mice with recombinant tau to build a map of the most immunogenic tau epitopes.
Non-transgenic and rTg4510 tau transgenic mice aged 5 months were immunized with either human wild-type tau (Wt, 4R0N) or P301L tau (4R0N). Each protein was formulated in Quil A adjuvant. Sera and splenocytes of vaccinated mice were collected to assess the humoral and cellular immune responses to tau. We employed a peptide array assay to identify the most effective epitopes. Brain histology was utilized to measure the effects of vaccination on tau pathology and inflammation.
Humoral immune responses following immunization demonstrated robust antibody titers (up to 1:80,000 endpoint titers) to each tau species in both mice models. The number of IFN-γ producing T cells and their proliferation were also increased in splenocytes from immunized mice, indicating an increased cellular immune response, and tau levels and neuroinflammation were both reduced. We identified five immunogenic motifs within either the N-terminal (9-15 and 21-27 amino acids), proline rich (168-174 and 220-228 amino acids), or the C-terminal regions (427-438 amino acids) of the wild-type and P301L tau protein sequence.
Our study identifies five previously unknown immunogenic motifs of wild-type and mutated (P301L) tau protein. Immunization with both proteins resulted in reduced tau pathology and neuroinflammation in a tau transgenic model, supporting the efficacy of tau immunotherapy in tauopathy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12974-014-0152-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4167523  PMID: 25183004
Tau; Immunogenicity; Active immunization; Neuroinflammation; Peripheral response
3.  Aging enhances classical activation but mitigates alternative activation in the CNS 
Neurobiology of aging  2013;34(6):1610-1620.
The role of microglia/ macrophages during neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases remains controversial. To date, at least two activations states have been suggested consisting of a classical response (M1) and the alternative response (M2). Identifying selective biomarkers of microglia that representative their functional activation states may help elucidate disease course and understand repair mechanisms. Two cocktails containing either TNF-α, IL-12, and IL-1β (referred to as CKT-1) or IL-13 and IL-4 (referred to CKT-2) were injections into the hippocampus of mice aged 6, 12, or 24 months. Microarray analysis was performed on hippocampal tissue 3 days post injection. Gene transcripts were compared between CKT-1 versus CKT-2 stimulator cocktails. Several selective transcripts expressed for the CKT-1 included CXCL13, haptoglobin, MARCO, and calgranulin B, while a smaller subset of genes was selectively induced by the CKT-2 and consisted of FIZZ1, IGF-1, and EAR 11. Importantly, selective transcripts were induced at all ages by CKT-1, whereas selective gene transcripts induced by CKT-2 decreased with age suggesting an age-related reduction in the IL-4/ IL-13 signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3652232  PMID: 23481567
Microglia; Cytokines; Inflammation; Macrophage; Alternative Activation; Classical Activation; Microarray
4.  Histone deacetylase 6 inhibition improves memory and reduces total tau levels in a mouse model of tau deposition 
Tau pathology is associated with a number of age-related neurodegenerative disorders. Few treatments have been demonstrated to diminish the impact of tau pathology in mouse models and none are yet effective in humans. Histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) is an enzyme that removes acetyl groups from cytoplasmic proteins, rather than nuclear histones. Its substrates include tubulin, heat shock protein 90 and cortactin. Tubastatin A is a selective inhibitor of HDAC6. Modification of tau pathology by specific inhibition of HDAC6 presents a potential therapeutic approach in tauopathy.
We treated rTg4510 mouse models of tau deposition and non-transgenic mice with tubastatin (25 mg/kg) or saline (0.9%) from 5 to 7 months of age. Cognitive behavior analysis, histology and biochemical analysis were applied to access the effect of tubastatin on memory, tau pathology and neurodegeneration (hippocampal volume).
We present data showing that tubastatin restored memory function in rTg4510 mice and reversed a hyperactivity phenotype. We further found that tubastatin reduced the levels of total tau, both histologically and by western analysis. Reduction in total tau levels was positively correlated with memory improvement in these mice. However, there was no impact on phosphorylated forms of tau, either by histology or western analysis, nor was there an impact on silver positive inclusions histologically.
Potential mechanisms by which HDAC6 inhibitors might benefit the rTg4510 mouse include stabilization of microtubules secondary to increased tubulin acetylation, increased degradation of tau secondary to increased acetylation of HSP90 or both. These data support the use of HDAC6 inhibitors as potential therapeutic agents against tau pathology.
PMCID: PMC3978441  PMID: 24576665
5.  Amyloid oligomers exacerbate tau pathology in a mouse model of tauopathy 
Neuro-degenerative diseases  2012;11(4):165-181.
We investigate the influence of oligomeric forms of Aß and the influence of duration of exposure on the development of tau phosphorylation.
Aβ oligomers were injected intracranially either acutely into 5 mo old rTg4510 mice and tissue collected 3 days later or chronically into 3 mo old mice and tissue collected 2 mo later. Several forms of phosphorylated tau, glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) activation, microglial and astrocyte activation were measured.
Acute injections of Aß oligomers had no effect on phospho-tau epitopes, but did result in elevation of phosphorylated/activated GSK3. Chronic infusion of Aß oligomers into the right hippocampus resulted in a 3-4 fold elevations of several phospho-tau isoforms with no changes in total tau levels. A significant elevation of pGSK3 accompanied these changes. Microglial staining with CD68 paralleled the increase in tau phosphorylation, however CD45 staining was unaffected by Aß. Control experiments revealed that the infusion of Aß from the minipumps was largely complete by 10 d after implantation. Thus, the elevation of phospho-tau 2 mo after implantation implies that the changes are quite persistent.
Soluble Aβ1-42 oligomers have long-lasting effects on tau phosphorylation in rTg4510 model, possibly due to elevations in GSK3. These data suggest that even brief elevations of Aß production, may have enduring impact on the risk for tauopathy.
PMCID: PMC3739054  PMID: 22796753
β-amyloid; phospho-tau; glycogen synthase kinase 3 α/β (GSK3); microglia; inflammation; microosmotic pump
6.  Ketogenic Diet Improves Motor Performance but Not Cognition in Two Mouse Models of Alzheimer’s Pathology 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75713.
Dietary manipulations are increasingly viewed as possible approaches to treating neurodegenerative diseases. Previous studies suggest that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients present an energy imbalance with brain hypometabolism and mitochondrial deficits. Ketogenic diets (KDs), widely investigated in the treatment and prevention of seizures, have been suggested to bypass metabolic deficits present in AD brain by providing ketone bodies as an alternative fuel to neurons. We investigated the effects of a ketogenic diet in two transgenic mouse lines. Five months old APP/PS1 (a model of amyloid deposition) and Tg4510 (a model of tau deposition) mice were offered either a ketogenic or a control (NIH-31) diet for 3 months. Body weight and food intake were monitored throughout the experiment, and blood was collected at 4 weeks and 4 months for ketone and glucose assessments. Both lines of transgenic mice weighed less than nontransgenic mice, yet, surprisingly, had elevated food intake. The ketogenic diet did not affect these differences in body weight or food consumption. Behavioral testing during the last two weeks of treatment found that mice offered KD performed significantly better on the rotarod compared to mice on the control diet independent of genotype. In the open field test, both transgenic mouse lines presented increased locomotor activity compared to nontransgenic, age-matched controls, and this effect was not influenced by KD. The radial arm water maze identified learning deficits in both transgenic lines with no significant differences between diets. Tissue measures of amyloid, tau, astroglial and microglial markers in transgenic lines showed no differences between animals fed the control or the ketogenic diet. These data suggest that ketogenic diets may play an important role in enhancing motor performance in mice, but have minimal impact on the phenotype of murine models of amyloid or tau deposition.
PMCID: PMC3771931  PMID: 24069439
7.  Diverse activation of microglia by chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 overexpression in brain 
The chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2) is a monocyte chemoattractant protein that mediates macrophage recruitment and migration during peripheral and central nervous system (CNS) inflammation.
To determine the impact of CCL2 in inflammation in vivo and to elucidate the CCL2-induced polarization of activated brain microglia, we delivered CCL2 into the brains of wild-type mice via recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 9 (rAAV-9) driven by the chicken β-actin promoter. We measured microglial activation using histological and chemical measurement and recruitment of monocytes using histology and flow cytometry.
The overexpression of CCL2 in the CNS induced significant activation of brain resident microglia. CD45 and major histocompatibility complex class II immunoreactivity significantly increased at the sites of CCL2 administration. Histological characterization of the microglial phenotype revealed the elevation of “classically activated” microglial markers, such as calgranulin B and IL-1β, as well as markers associated with “alternative activation” of microglia, including YM1 and arginase 1. The protein expression profile in the hippocampus demonstrated markedly increased levels of IL-6, GM-CSF and eotaxin (CCL-11) in response to CCL2, but no changes in the levels of other cytokines, including TNF-α and IFN-γ. Moreover, real-time PCR analysis confirmed increases in mRNA levels of gene transcripts associated with neuroinflammation following CCL2 overexpression. Finally, we investigated the chemotactic properties of CCL2 in vivo by performing adoptive transfer of bone marrow–derived cells (BMDCs) isolated from donor mice that ubiquitously expressed green fluorescent protein. Flow cytometry and histological analyses indicated that BMDCs extravasated into brain parenchyma and colabeled with microglial markers.
Taken together, our results suggest that CCL2 strongly activates resident microglia in the brain. Both pro- and anti-inflammatory activation of microglia were prominent, with no bias toward the M1 or M2 phenotype in the activated cells. As expected, CCL2 overexpression actively recruited circulating monocytes into the CNS. Thus, CCL2 expression in mouse brain induces microglial activation and represents an efficient method for recruitment of peripheral macrophages.
PMCID: PMC3726363  PMID: 23866683
BMDC; CCL2; Infiltration; Inflammation; Macrophage; Microglial activation; rAAV9
8.  Intracranial Injection of AAV Expressing NEP but Not IDE Reduces Amyloid Pathology in APP+PS1 Transgenic Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59626.
The accumulation of β-amyloid peptides in the brain has been recognized as an essential factor in Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Several proteases, including Neprilysin (NEP), endothelin converting enzyme (ECE), and insulin degrading enzyme (IDE), have been shown to cleave β-amyloid peptides (Aβ). We have previously reported reductions in amyloid in APP+PS1 mice with increased expression of ECE. In this study we compared the vector-induced increased expression of NEP and IDE. We used recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors expressing either native forms of NEP (NEP-n) or IDE (IDE-n), or engineered secreted forms of NEP (NEP-s) or IDE (IDE-s). In a six-week study, immunohistochemistry staining for total Aβ was significantly decreased in animals receiving the NEP-n and NEP-s but not for IDE-n or IDE-s in either the hippocampus or cortex. Congo red staining followed a similar trend revealing significant decreases in the hippocampus and the cortex for NEP-n and NEP-s treatment groups. Our results indicate that while rAAV-IDE does not have the same therapeutic potential as rAAV-NEP, rAAV-NEP-s and NEP-n are effective at reducing amyloid loads, and both of these vectors continue to have significant effects nine months post-injection. As such, they may be considered reasonable candidates for gene therapy trials in AD.
PMCID: PMC3610740  PMID: 23555730
9.  Accelerating drug discovery for Alzheimer's disease: best practices for preclinical animal studies 
Animal models have contributed significantly to our understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease (AD). As a result, over 300 interventions have been investigated and reported to mitigate pathological phenotypes or improve behavior in AD animal models or both. To date, however, very few of these findings have resulted in target validation in humans or successful translation to disease-modifying therapies. Challenges in translating preclinical studies to clinical trials include the inability of animal models to recapitulate the human disease, variations in breeding and colony maintenance, lack of standards in design, conduct and analysis of animal trials, and publication bias due to under-reporting of negative results in the scientific literature. The quality of animal model research on novel therapeutics can be improved by bringing the rigor of human clinical trials to animal studies. Research communities in several disease areas have developed recommendations for the conduct and reporting of preclinical studies in order to increase their validity, reproducibility, and predictive value. To address these issues in the AD community, the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation partnered with Charles River Discovery Services (Morrisville, NC, USA) and Cerebricon Ltd. (Kuopio, Finland) to convene an expert advisory panel of academic, industry, and government scientists to make recommendations on best practices for animal studies testing investigational AD therapies. The panel produced recommendations regarding the measurement, analysis, and reporting of relevant AD targets, th choice of animal model, quality control measures for breeding and colony maintenance, and preclinical animal study design. Major considerations to incorporate into preclinical study design include a priori hypotheses, pharmacokinetics-pharmacodynamics studies prior to proof-of-concept testing, biomarker measurements, sample size determination, and power analysis. The panel also recommended distinguishing between pilot 'exploratory' animal studies and more extensive 'therapeutic' studies to guide interpretation. Finally, the panel proposed infrastructure and resource development, such as the establishment of a public data repository in which both positive animal studies and negative ones could be reported. By promoting best practices, these recommendations can improve the methodological quality and predictive value of AD animal studies and make the translation to human clinical trials more efficient and reliable.
PMCID: PMC3218805  PMID: 21943025
10.  Immunotherapy for Alzheimer’s Disease 
Journal of internal medicine  2011;269(1):54-63.
In 1999 a vaccine approach was found to reduce amyloid deposits in transgenic mice overproducing the amyloid precursor protein. This was followed closely by demonstrations that vaccines or passive immunotherapy could rescue memory deficits in these mice. Initial human clinical trials revealed apparent autoimmune reactions in a subset of patients, but also some cases of cognitive benefit and amyloid clearance. Further work with passive immunotherapy in mouse models confirmed exceptional clearing abilities of anti-amyloid antibodies even in older mice. However, in parallel with parenchymal amyloid clearance was the appearance of microhemorrhages and increased vascular amyloid deposition. Additional clinical trials with passive immunotherapy confirmed occasional appearance of microhemorrhage and occurrence of vasogenic edema in some patients, particularly those with the apolipoprotein E4 genotype. Recent data with positron emission tomography demonstrates trial participants passively immunized with anti-Aβ antibodies have reduced signals with amyloid binding ligands after 18 mo of therapy. Several anti-Aβ immunotherapies have reached phase 3 testing and immunotherapy is likely to be the first test of the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Identifying antibody variants that retain amyloid clearance with fewer adverse reactions remains a major focus of translational research in this area.
PMCID: PMC3074967  PMID: 21158978
Alzheimer’s disease; antibody; transgenic mice; microhemorrhage
Journal of neuroscience methods  2010;194(1):144-153.
The use of recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) vectors as a means of gene delivery to the central nervous system has emerged as a potentially viable method for the treatment of several types of degenerative brain diseases. However, a limitation of typical intracranial injections into the adult brain parenchyma is the relatively restricted distribution of the delivered gene to large brain regions such as the cortex, presumably due to confined dispersion of the injected particles. Optimizing the administration techniques to maximize gene distribution and gene expression is an important step in developing gene therapy studies. Here, we have found additive increases in distribution when 3 methods to increase brain distribution of rAAV were combined. The convection enhanced delivery (CED) method with the step-design cannula was used to deliver rAAV vector serotypes 5, 8 and 9 encoding GFP into the hippocampus of the mouse brain. While the CED method improved distribution of all 3 serotypes, the combination of rAAV9 and CED was particularly effective. Systemic mannitol administration, which reduces intracranial pressure, also further expanded distribution of GFP expression, in particular, increased expression on the contralateral hippocampi. These data suggest that combining advanced injection techniques with newer rAAV serotypes greatly improves viral vector distribution, which could have significant benefits for implementation of gene therapy strategies.
PMCID: PMC2995441  PMID: 20951738
12.  Diverse inflammatory responses in transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer's disease and the effect of immunotherapy on these responses 
ASN NEURO  2011;3(5):e00069.
While the presence of an inflammatory response in AD (Alzheimer's disease) is well known, the data on inflammation are conflicting, suggesting that inflammation either attenuates pathology, exacerbates it or has no effect. Our goal was to more fully characterize the inflammatory response in APP (amyloid precursor protein) transgenic mice with and without disease progression. In addition, we have examined how anti-Aβ (amyloid β-peptide) immunotherapy alters this inflammatory response. We have used quantitative RT–PCR (reverse transcription–PCR) and protein analysis to measure inflammatory responses ranging from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory and repair factors in transgenic mice that develop amyloid deposits only (APPSw) and amyloid deposits with progression to tau pathology and neuron loss [APPSw/NOS2−/− (nitric oxide synthase 2−/−)]. We also examined tissues from previously published immunotherapy studies. These studies were a passive immunization study in APPSw mice and an active vaccination study in APPSw/NOS2−/− mice. Both studies have already been shown to lower amyloid load and improve cognition. We have found that amyloid deposition is associated with high expression of alternative activation and acquired deactivation genes and low expression of pro-inflammatory genes, whereas disease progression is associated with a mixed phenotype including increased levels of some classical activation factors. Immunotherapy targeting amyloid deposition in both mouse models resulted in decreased alternative inflammatory markers and, in the case of passive immunization, a transient increase in pro-inflammatory markers. Our results suggest that an alternative immune response favours retention of amyloid deposits in the brain, and switching away from this state by immunotherapy permits removal of amyloid.
PMCID: PMC3227004  PMID: 21995345
alternative activation; amyloid deposition; immunotherapy; microglia; neuroinflammation; Aβ, amyloid β-peptide; AD, Alzheimer's disease; AG1, arginase 1; APP, amyloid precursor protein; IL-1β, interleukin 1β; LPS, lipopolysaccharide; MMP, matrix metalloprotease; MR, mannose receptor; Mrc1, mannose receptor C1; NFT, neurofibrillary tangle; NOS2, nitric oxide synthase 2; RT–PCR, reverse transcription–PCR; SPHK, sphingosine kinase; TGFβ, transforming growth factor β; TNFα, tumour necrosis factor α; WT, wild-type
13.  Activation of matrix metalloproteinases following anti-Aβ immunotherapy; implications for microhemorrhage occurrence 
Anti-Aβ immunotherapy is a promising approach to the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) currently in clinical trials. There is extensive evidence, both in mice and humans that a significant adverse event is the occurrence of microhemorrhages. Also, vasogenic edema was reported in phase 2 of a passive immunization clinical trial. In order to overcome these vascular adverse effects it is critical that we understand the mechanism(s) by which they occur.
We have examined the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) protein degradation system in two previously published anti-Aβ immunotherapy studies. The first was a passive immunization study in which we examined 22 month old APPSw mice that had received anti-Aβ antibodies for 1, 2 or 3 months. The second is an active vaccination study in which we examined 16 month old APPSw/NOS2-/- mice treated with Aβ vaccination for 4 months.
There is a significant activation of the MMP2 and MMP9 proteinase degradation systems by anti-Aβ immunotherapy, regardless of whether this is delivered through active vaccination or passive immunization. We have characterized this activation by gene expression, protein expression and zymography assessment of MMP activity.
Since the MMP2 and MMP9 systems are heavily implicated in the pathophysiology of intracerbral hemorrhage, these data may provide a potential mechanism of microhemorrhage due to immunotherapy. Increased activity of the MMP system, therefore, is likely to be a major factor in increased microhemorrhage occurrence.
PMCID: PMC3182918  PMID: 21906275
Immunotherapy; matrix metalloproteinases; inflammation; microhemorrhage; amyloid; cerebral amyloid angiopathy; transgenic mouse; Alzheimer's disease
14.  Abnormal Post-Translational and Extracellular Processing of Brevican in Plaque-Bearing Mice Overexpressing APPsw 
Journal of neurochemistry  2010;113(3):784-795.
Aggregation of amyloid-β in the forebrain of Alzheimer's disease subjects may disturb the molecular organization of the extracellular microenvironment that modulates neural and synaptic plasticity. Proteoglycans are major components of this extracellular environment. To test the hypothesis that amyloid-β, or another amyloid precursor protein dependent mechanism modifies the accumulation and/or turnover of extracellular proteoglycans, we examined whether the expression and processing of brevican, an abundant extracellular, chondroitin sulfate-bearing proteoglycan, were altered in brains of amyloid-β-depositing transgenic mice (APPsw) as a model of Alzheimer's disease. The molecular size of chondroitin sulfate chains attached to brevican was smaller in hippocampal tissue from APPsw mice bearing amyloid-β deposits compared to non-transgenic mice, likely due to changes in the chondroitin sulfate chains. Also, the abundance of the major proteolytic fragment of brevican was markedly diminished in extracts from several telencephalic regions of APPsw mice compared to non-transgenic mice, yet these immunoreactive fragments appeared to accumulate adjacent to the plaque edge. These results suggest that amyloid-β or amyloid precursor protein exert inhibitory effects on proteolytic cleavage mechanisms responsible for synthesis and turnover of proteoglycans. Since proteoglycans stabilize synaptic structure and inhibit molecular plasticity, defective brevican processing observed in amyloid-β-bearing mice and potentially end-stage human Alzheimer's disease, may contribute to deficient neural plasticity.
PMCID: PMC2855738  PMID: 20180882
amyloid β protein; chondroitin sulfate; proteoglycan; Alzheimer's disease; matrix metalloproteinase (MMP); a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs (ADAMTS)
15.  Mutant presenilin-1 deregulated peripheral immunity exacerbates alzheimer-like pathology 
Mutations in the presenilin-1 (PS1) gene are independent causes of familial Alzheimer’s disease (AD). AD patients have dysregulated immunity, and PS1 mutant mice exhibit abnormal systemic immune responses. To test whether immune function abnormality caused by a mutant human PS1 gene (mhPS1) could modify AD-like pathology, we reconstituted immune systems of AD model mice carrying a mutant human amyloid precursor protein gene (mhAPP; Tg2576 mice) or both mhAPP and mhPS1 genes (PSAPP mice) with allogeneic bone marrow cells. Here, we report a marked reduction in amyloid-β (Aβ) levels, β-amyloid plaques, and brain inflammatory responses in PSAPP mice following strain-matched wild type PS1 bone marrow reconstitution. These effects occurred with immune switching from pro-inflammatory T helper (Th) 1 to anti-inflammatory Th2 immune responses in the periphery and in the brain, which likely instructed microglia to phagocytose and clear Aβ in an ex vivo assay. Conversely, Tg2576 mice displayed accelerated AD-like pathology when reconstituted with mhPS1 bone marrow. These data show that hematopoietic cells bearing the mhPS1 transgene exacerbate AD-like pathology, suggesting a novel therapeutic strategy for AD based on targeting PS1 in peripheral immune cells.
PMCID: PMC2891003  PMID: 19900216
Alzheimer’s disease; Aβ plaques; bone marrow cells; immune; microglia
16.  Apparent Behavioral Benefits of Tau Overexpression in P301L Tau Transgenic Mice 
Transgenic mice expressing human tau containing the P301L tau mutation (JNPL3; tau mice) develop motor neuron loss, paralysis and death between 7 and 12 months. Surprisingly, at 5 and 7 months of age, tau transgenic mice were superior to other genotypes in the rotarod task, and had near perfect scores on the balance beam and coat hanger tests. One tau transgenic mouse was performing at a superior level in the rotarod one day prior to developing paralysis. Cognitive function was also normal in the tau mice evaluated in the radial arm water maze and the Y-maze tasks. We also crossed the tau transgenic mice with Tg2576 amyloid-β protein precursor (AβPP) transgenic mice. Although AβPP mice were deficient in the radial arm maze task, AβPP+tau mice were not impaired, implying a benefit of the tau transgene. Some mice were homozygous for the retinal degeneration mutation (rd/rd) and excluded from the genotype analysis. Only the water maze task discriminated the rd/rd mice from nontransgenic mice. In conclusion, it seems that the modest tau overexpression or the presence of mutant tau in the JNPL3 tau mice may provide some benefit with respect to motor and cognitive performance before the onset of paralysis.
PMCID: PMC3018352  PMID: 19096159
tau; amyloid; water maze; rotarod; Y-maze; transgenic mice
17.  Trafficking CD11b-positive blood cells deliver therapeutic genes to the brain of amyloid depositing transgenic mice 
A major question for gene therapy in brain concerns methods to administer therapeutic genes in a uniform manner over major portions of the brain. A second question in neuroimmunology concerns the extent to which monocytes migrate to the CNS in degenerative disorders. Here we show that CD11b+ cells (largely monocytes) isolated from the bone marrow of green fluorescent protein (GFP) expressing donors spontaneously home to compacted amyloid plaques in the brain. Injections of these cells as a single pulse show a rapid clearance from circulation (90 minute half-life) and tissue residence half-lives of roughly 3 days. The uptake into brain was minimal in nontransgenic mice. In transgenic mice containing amyloid deposits, uptake was dramatically increased and associated with a corresponding decrease in monocyte uptake into peripheral organs compared to nontransgenic littermates. Twice weekly infusions of the CD11b+ bone marrow cells transfected with a genetically engineered form of the protease neprilysin completely arrest amyloid deposition in an aggressively depositing transgenic model. Exploiting the natural homing properties of peripherally derived blood cells to deliver therapeutic genes has the advantages of access to the entire CNS, expression largely restricted to sites of injury, low risk of immune reactivity, and fading of expression if adverse reactions are encountered. These observations support the feasibility of testing autologous monocytes for application of therapeutic genes in human CNS disease. Moreover, these data support the results from bone marrow grafts that circulating CD11b+ cells can enter the CNS without requiring the use of lethal irradiation.
PMCID: PMC2929651  PMID: 20660248
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid; monocytes; microglia; neprilysin; transgenic mice
18.  LPS- induced inflammation exacerbates phospho-tau pathology in rTg4510 mice 
Inflammation and microglial activation are associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. Somewhat surprisingly, injection of a prototypical inflammatory agent, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) into brains of amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice clears some of the pre-existing amyloid deposits. It is less well understood how brain inflammation modulates tau pathology in the absence of Aβ. These studies examined the role of LPS-induced inflammation on tau pathology. We used transgenic rTg4510 mice, which express the P301L mutation (4R0N TauP301L) and initiate tau pathology between 3-5 months of age. First, we found an age-dependent increase in several markers of microglial activation as these rTg4510 mice aged and tau tangles accumulated. LPS injections into the frontal cortex and hippocampus induced significant activation of CD45 and arginase 1 in rTg4510 and non-transgenic mice. In addition, activation of YM1 by LPS was exaggerated in transgenic mice relative to non-transgenic animals. Expression of Ser199/202 and phospho-tau Ser396 was increased in rTg4510 mice that received LPS compared to vehicle injections. However, the numbers of silver-positive neurons, implying presence of more pre- and mature tangles, was not significantly affected by LPS administration. These data suggest that inflammatory stimuli can facilitate tau phosphorylation. Coupled with prior results demonstrating clearance of Aβ by similar LPS injections, these results suggest that brain inflammation may have opposing effects on amyloid and tau pathology, possibly explaining the failures (to date) of anti-inflammatory therapies in AD patients.
PMCID: PMC2949628  PMID: 20846376
19.  Amyloid-β protofibril levels correlate with spatial learning in Arctic Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice 
The FEBS journal  2009;276(4):995-1006.
Oligomeric assemblies of Amyloid-β (Aβ) are suggested to be central in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, since levels of soluble Aβ much better correlate with the extent of cognitive dysfunctions than senile plaque counts do. Moreover, such Aβ species have been shown to be neurotoxic, to interfere with learned behavior and to inhibit maintenance of hippocampal long term potentiation. The tg-ArcSwe model, transgenic mice with the Arctic and Swedish Alzheimer mutations, expresses elevated levels of Aβ protofibrils in the brain, making tg-ArcSwe a highly suitable model to investigate the pathogenic role of these Aβ assemblies. In the present study, we estimated Aβ protofibril levels in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid of tg-ArcSwe mice, and also assessed their role with respect to cognitive functions. Protofibril levels, specifically measured with a sandwich ELISA, were found to be elevated in young tg-ArcSwe mice, as compared to several transgenic models lacking the Arctic mutation. In aged tg-ArcSwe mice with considerable plaque deposition, Aβ protofibrils were approximately 50 percent higher than in younger mice, whereas levels of total Aβ were exponentially increased. Young tg-ArcSwe mice showed deficits in spatial learning and individual performance in Morris water maze correlated inversely with levels of Aβ protofibrils, but not with total Aβ levels. We conclude that Aβ protofibrils accumulate in an age-dependent manner in tg-ArcSwe mice, although to a far less extent than total Aβ. Our findings suggest that increased levels of Aβ protofibrils could result in spatial learning impairment.
PMCID: PMC2752010  PMID: 19215301
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β protofibrils; Arctic mutation; transgenic mice; spatial learning
20.  Amyloid, Hyperactivity and Metabolism. A commentary on Vloebergh's et al. 
Behavioral neuroscience  2008;122(3):730-732.
Recent data suggest that amyloid precursor protein transgenic mice consume excess calories relative to nontransgenic mice, yet weight less. Potential explanations include increased locomotor activity and/or increased basal metabolism. Mechanisms that might underlie the latter explanation include transmembrane pores produced by assemblies of Aß modifying proton or ion gradients across membranes. Alzheimer's disease also results in weight loss. If amyloid were found to induce a hypermetabolic state, this would suggest an alternative mechanism for the pathology found in the disease, and provide opportunities for therapeutic strategies not yet considered.
PMCID: PMC2706527  PMID: 18513144
amyloid; body weight; hypermetabolism; activity; Alzheimer's disease
21.  Aβ vaccination, but not nitro-NSAID treatment, increases vascular amyloid and microhemorrhage while both reduce parenchymal amyloid. 
Neuroscience  2006;144(3):950-960.
Vaccination with Aβ1–42 and treatment with NCX-2216, a novel nitric oxide releasing flurbiprofen derivative, have each been shown separately to reduce amyloid deposition in transgenic mice and have been suggested as potential therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. In the current study we treated doubly transgenic amyloid precursor protein and presenilin-1 (APP+PS1) mice with Aβ1–42 vaccination, NCX-2216 or both drugs simultaneously for 9 months. We found that all treatments reduced amyloid deposition, both compact and diffuse, to the same extent while only vaccinated animals, with or without non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) treatment, showed increased microglial activation associated with the remaining amyloid deposits. We also found that active Aβ vaccination resulted in significantly increased cerebral amyloid angiopathy and associated microhemorrhages, while NCX-2216 did not, in spite of similar reductions in parenchymal amyloid. Co-administration of NCX-2216 did not attenuate this effect of the vaccine. This is the first report showing that active immunization can result in increased vascular amyloid and microhemorrhage, as has been observed with passive immunization. Co-administration of an NSAID agent with Aβ vaccination does not substantially modify the effects of Aβ immunotherapy. The difference between these treatments with respect to vascular amyloid development may reflect the clearance-promoting actions of the vaccine as opposed to the production-modifying effects proposed for flurbiprofen.
PMCID: PMC1857306  PMID: 17137722
Microglia; Inflammation; Cerebral amyloid angiopathy; Immunotherapy Alzheimer’s disease
22.  Up-Regulation of Bcl-2 in APP Transgenic Mice is Associated with Neuroprotection 
Neurobiology of disease  2006;25(1):179-188.
Aβ-induced neurodegeneration is limited in APP and APP+PS1 transgenic mice. In middle-aged APP+PS1 transgenic mice, we found significantly increased Bcl-2 expression. The increase in Bcl-2 is restricted to amyloid-containing brain regions and is not found at young ages, suggesting that Aβ deposition is the stimulus for increased Bcl-2. Western blot results were confirmed with immunohistochemistry, and qRT-PCR. In addition, we found that APP transgenic mice were protected from neurotoxicity caused by an injection of bak BH3 fusion peptides, known to induce apoptosis by antagonizing bcl protein activity. Nissl and fluorojade stained slides showed that the active bak BH3 peptide caused substantial neuronal loss in the dentate gyrus and CA3 regions of nontransgenic, but not APP mice. The inactive mutant bak BH3 peptide did not cause degeneration in any mice. These data demonstrate that the increased Bcl-2 expression in brain regions containing Aβ deposits is associated with neuroprotection.
PMCID: PMC1885419  PMID: 17067805
Bax; APP+PS1 transgenic mice; Alzheimer’s disease; neurotoxicity; Aβ; apoptosis
23.  Improvement of a low pH antigen-antibody dissociation procedure for ELISA measurement of circulating anti-Aβ antibodies 
BMC Neuroscience  2007;8:22.
Prior work from our group found that acid dissociation (pH 2.5 incubation) of serum from APP transgenic mice vaccinated against Aβ increased the apparent anti-Aβ titers, suggesting antibody masking by antigen in the ELISA assay. Subsequently, we found that pH 2.5 incubation of serum from unvaccinated non-transgenic mice showed antibody binding to Aβ1–42, but no increase when other proteins, including shorter Aβ peptides, coated the ELISA plate. To investigate further the effects of low pH incubation on apparent anti-Aβ1–42 signals, we examined normal sera from nonTg unvaccinated mice, nonTg mice vaccinated with Aβ peptide (to produce authentic anti-Aβ antibodies) or a monoclonal antibody against Aβ (6E10) using competitive-inhibition ELISA and Aβ epitope mapping assays. In addition, we examined use of a less stringent low pH procedure at pH 3.5, to ascertain if it had the same effects as the pH 2.5 procedure.
We believe there are three distinct effects of pH 2.5 incubation.; A) an artifactual increase in binding to full length Aβ by mouse immunoglobulin which has low affinity for Aβ, B) an inactivation of anti-Aβ antibodies that is time dependent and C) unmasking of high affinity anti-Aβ antibodies when high levels of circulating Aβ is present in APP transgenic mice. All three reactions can interact to produce the final ELISA signal. Incubation of sera from unvaccinated nonTg mice at pH 2.5 enhanced ELISA signals by process A. Conversely, pH 2.5 incubation of sera from vaccinated nonTg mice with caused a time dependent reduction of antibody signal by process B (overcoming the increase caused by A). The artifactual anti-Aβ ELISA signal enhanced by pH 2.5 incubation of normal mouse sera could not be effectively competed by low to moderate concentrations of Aβ, nor bind to shorter Aβ peptides in a manner similar to authentic anti-Aβ antibodies. Incubation of mouse sera at pH 3.5 caused neither an apparent increase in anti-Aβ ELISA signal, nor an inactivation of the ELISA signals resulting from either vaccination or monoclonal antibodies. However, incubation at pH 3.5 was able to completely reverse the reduction in ELISA signal caused by Aβ complexing with antibodies in sera from vaccinated mice or monoclonal anti-Aβ antibodies.
Incubation at pH 3.5 is sufficient to dissociate Aβ bound to anti-Aβ antibodies without producing artifactual increases in the signal, or inactivating authentic antibody binding. Thus, use of pH 3.5 is a considerable improvement over pH 2.5 incubation for unmasking anti-Aβ antibodies in ELISA assays to measure antibodies in APP transgenic mouse sera.
PMCID: PMC1845169  PMID: 17374155
24.  Intracranial administration of deglycosylated C-terminal-specific anti-Aβ antibody efficiently clears amyloid plaques without activating microglia in amyloid-depositing transgenic mice 
Antibodies against the Aß peptide clear Aß deposits when injected intracranially. Deglycosylated antibodies have reduced effector functions compared to their intact counterparts, potentially avoiding immune activation.
Deglycosylated or intact C-terminal specific high affinity anti-Aβ antibody (2H6) were intracranially injected into the right frontal cortex and hippocampus of amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice. The untreated left hemisphere was used to normalize for the extent of amyloid deposition present in each mouse. Control transgenic mice were injected with an antibody against a drosophila-specific protein (amnesiac). Tissues were examined for brain amyloid deposition and microglial responses 3 days after the injection.
The deglycosylated 2H6 antibody had lower affinity for several murine Fcγ receptors and human complement than intact 2H6 without a change in affinity for Aß. Immunohistochemistry for Aβ and thioflavine-S staining revealed that both diffuse and compact deposits were reduced by both antibodies. In animals treated with the intact 2H6 antibody, a significant increase in Fcγ-receptor II/III immunostaining was observed compared to animals treated with the control IgG antibody. No increase in Fcγ-receptor II/III was found with the deglycosylated 2H6 antibody. Immunostaining for the microglial activation marker CD45 demonstrated a similar trend.
These findings suggest that the deglycosylated 2H6 is capable of removing both compact and diffuse plaques without activating microglia. Thus, antibodies with reduced effector functions may clear amyloid without concomitant immune activation when tested as immunotherapy for Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC1479322  PMID: 16686956
25.  Dysregulation of Na+/K+ ATPase by amyloid in APP+PS1 transgenic mice 
BMC Neuroscience  2005;6:7.
The pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is comprised of extracellular amyloid plaques, intracellular tau tangles, dystrophic neurites and neurodegeneration. The mechanisms by which these various pathological features arise are under intense investigation. Here, expanding upon pilot gene expression studies, we have further analyzed the relationship between Na+/K+ ATPase and amyloid using APP+PS1 transgenic mice, a model that develops amyloid plaques and memory deficits in the absence of tangle formation and neuronal or synaptic loss.
We report that in addition to decreased mRNA expression, there was decreased overall Na+/K+ ATPase enzyme activity in the amyloid-containing hippocampi of the APP+PS1 mice (although not in the amyloid-free cerebellum). In addition, dual immunolabeling revealed an absence of Na+/K+ ATPase staining in a zone surrounding congophilic plaques that was occupied by dystrophic neurites. We also demonstrate that cerebral Na+/K+ ATPase activity can be directly inhibited by high concentrations of soluble Aβ.
The data suggest that the reductions in Na+/K+ ATPase activity in Alzheimer tissue may not be purely secondary to neuronal loss, but may results from direct effects of amyloid on this enzyme. This disruption of ion homeostasis and osmotic balance may interfere with normal electrotonic properties of dendrites, blocking intraneuronal signal processing, and contribute to neuritic dystrophia. These results suggest that therapies aimed at enhancing Na+/K+ ATPase activity in AD may improve symptoms and/or delay disease progression.
PMCID: PMC549198  PMID: 15689237

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