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author:("Levy, errat")
1.  Glutamatergic Transmission Aberration: A Major Cause of Behavioral Deficits in a Murine Model of Down's Syndrome 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(15):5099-5106.
Trisomy 21, or Down's syndrome (DS), is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability. Altered neurotransmission in the brains of DS patients leads to hippocampus-dependent learning and memory deficiency. Although genetic mouse models have provided important insights into the genes and mechanisms responsible for DS-specific changes, the molecular mechanisms leading to memory deficits are not clear. We investigated whether the segmental trisomy model of DS, Ts[Rb(12.1716)]2Cje (Ts2), exhibits hippocampal glutamatergic transmission abnormalities and whether these alterations cause behavioral deficits. Behavioral assays demonstrated that Ts2 mice display a deficit in nest building behavior, a measure of hippocampus-dependent nonlearned behavior, as well as dysfunctional hippocampus-dependent spatial memory tested in the object-placement and the Y-maze spontaneous alternation tasks. Magnetic resonance spectra measured in the hippocampi revealed a significantly lower glutamate concentration in Ts2 as compared with normal disomic (2N) littermates. The glutamate deficit accompanied hippocampal NMDA receptor1 (NMDA-R1) mRNA and protein expression level downregulation in Ts2 compared with 2N mice. In concert with these alterations, paired-pulse analyses suggested enhanced synaptic inhibition and/or lack of facilitation in the dentate gyrus of Ts2 compared with 2N mice. Ts2 mice also exhibited disrupted synaptic plasticity in slice recordings of the hippocampal CA1 region. Collectively, these findings imply that deficits in glutamate and NMDA-R1 may be responsible for impairments in synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus associated with behavioral dysfunctions in Ts2 mice. Thus, these findings suggest that glutamatergic deficits have a significant role in causing intellectual disabilities in DS.
PMCID: PMC3983795  PMID: 24719089
Down's syndrome; glutamate; LTP; NMDA receptors; spatial memory
2.  Spared Piriform Cortical Single-Unit Odor Processing and Odor Discrimination in the Tg2576 Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106431.
Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly today. One of the earliest reported signs of Alzheimer's disease is olfactory dysfunction, which may manifest in a variety of ways. The present study sought to address this issue by investigating odor coding in the anterior piriform cortex, the primary cortical region involved in higher order olfactory function, and how it relates to performance on olfactory behavioral tasks. An olfactory habituation task was performed on cohorts of transgenic and age-matched wild-type mice at 3, 6 and 12 months of age. These animals were then anesthetized and acute, single-unit electrophysiology was performed in the anterior piriform cortex. In addition, in a separate group of animals, a longitudinal odor discrimination task was conducted from 3–12 months of age. Results showed that while odor habituation was impaired at all ages, Tg2576 performed comparably to age-matched wild-type mice on the olfactory discrimination task. The behavioral data mirrored intact anterior piriform cortex single-unit odor responses and receptive fields in Tg2576, which were comparable to wild-type at all age groups. The present results suggest that odor processing in the olfactory cortex and basic odor discrimination is especially robust in the face of amyloid β precursor protein (AβPP) over-expression and advancing amyloid β (Aβ) pathology. Odor identification deficits known to emerge early in Alzheimer's disease progression, therefore, may reflect impairments in linking the odor percept to associated labels in cortical regions upstream of the primary olfactory pathway, rather than in the basic odor processing itself.
PMCID: PMC4152226  PMID: 25181487
3.  Immunization targeting a minor plaque constituent clears β-amyloid and rescues behavioral deficits in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model 
Neurobiology of aging  2012;34(1):137-145.
While anti-human-Aβ immunotherapy clears brain β-amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease (AD), targeting additional brain plaque constituents to promote clearance has not been attempted. Endogenous murine Aβ is a minor β-amyloid plaque component in amyloid precursor protein transgenic AD models, which we show is ~2–8% of the total accumulated Aβ in various human APP transgenic mice. Murine Aβ co-deposits and co-localizes with human Aβ in amyloid plaques and the two Aβ species co-immunoprecipitate together from brain extracts. In the human APP transgenic mice Tg2576, passive immunization for eight weeks with a murine-Aβ-specific antibody reduced β-plaque pathology, robustly decreasing both murine and human Aβ levels. The immunized mice additionally showed improvements in two behavioral assays, odor habituation and nesting behavior. We conclude that passive anti-murine-Aβ immunization clears β-amyloid plaque pathology – including the major human Aβ component – and decreases behavioral deficits, arguing that targeting minor, endogenous brain plaque constituents can be beneficial, broadening the range of plaque-associated targets for AD therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3426627  PMID: 22608241
Alzheimer's disease; Aβ; co-deposition; immunization; immunotherapy
4.  Early Endosomal Abnormalities and Cholinergic Neuron Degeneration in Amyloid-β Protein Precursor Transgenic Mice 
Early endosomal changes, a prominent pathology in neurons early in Alzheimer’s disease, also occur in neurons and peripheral tissues in Down syndrome. While in Down syndrome models increased amyloid-β protein precursor (AβPP) expression is known to be a necessary contributor on the trisomic background to this early endosomal pathology, increased AβPP alone has yet to be shown to be sufficient to drive early endosomal alterations in neurons. Comparing two AβPP transgenic mouse models, one that contains the AβPP Swedish K670N/M671L double mutation at the β-cleavage site (APP23) and one that has the AβPP London V717I mutation near the γ-cleavage site (APPLd2), we show significantly altered early endosome morphology in fronto-parietal neurons as well as enlargement of early endosomes in basal forebrain cholinergic neurons of the medial septal nucleus in the APP23 model, which has the higher levels of AβPP β-C-terminal fragment (βCTF) accumulation. Early endosomal changes correlate with a marked loss of the cholinergic population, which is consistent with the known dependence of the large projection cholinergic cells on endosome-mediated retrograde neurotrophic transport. Our findings support the idea that increased expression of AβPP and AβPP metabolites in neurons is sufficient to drive early endosomal abnormalities in vivo, and that disruption of the endocytic system is likely to contribute to basal forebrain cholinergic vulnerability.
PMCID: PMC3616896  PMID: 23254640
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β protein precursor; cholinergic neurons; endocytosis; endosomes; septal nuclei
5.  The Exosome Secretory Pathway Transports Amyloid Precursor Protein Carboxyl-terminal Fragments from the Cell into the Brain Extracellular Space* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(51):43108-43115.
Background: Exosomes isolated in vitro contain full-length amyloid-β precursor protein (flAPP) and APP metabolites.
Results: Exosomes secreted in vivo in brains of wild-type and APP-overexpressing mice contain higher levels of APP C-terminal fragments (CTFs) relative to flAPP compared with brain tissue.
Conclusion: Brain exosomes are enriched with APP CTFs.
Significance: The exosome secretory pathway clears cellular APP CTFs, releasing the toxic fragments into the neuropil.
In vitro studies have shown that neuronal cell cultures secrete exosomes containing amyloid-β precursor protein (APP) and the APP-processing products, C-terminal fragments (CTFs) and amyloid-β (Aβ). We investigated the secretion of full-length APP (flAPP) and APP CTFs via the exosome secretory pathway in vivo. To this end, we developed a novel protocol designed to isolate exosomes secreted into mouse brain extracellular space. Exosomes with typical morphology were isolated from freshly removed mouse brains and from frozen mouse and human brain tissues, demonstrating that exosomes can be isolated from post-mortem tissue frozen for long periods of time. flAPP, APP CTFs, and enzymes that cleave both flAPP and APP CTFs were identified in brain exosomes. Although higher levels of both flAPP and APP CTFs were observed in exosomes isolated from the brains of transgenic mice overexpressing human APP (Tg2576) compared with wild-type control mice, there was no difference in the number of secreted brain exosomes. These data indicate that the levels of flAPP and APP CTFs associated with exosomes mirror the cellular levels of flAPP and APP CTFs. Interestingly, exosomes isolated from the brains of both Tg2576 and wild-type mice are enriched with APP CTFs relative to flAPP. Thus, we hypothesize that the exosome secretory pathway plays a pleiotropic role in the brain: exosome secretion is beneficial to the cell, acting as a specific releasing system of neurotoxic APP CTFs and Aβ, but the secretion of exosomes enriched with APP CTFs, neurotoxic proteins that are also a source of secreted Aβ, is harmful to the brain.
PMCID: PMC3522305  PMID: 23129776
Alzheimer Disease; Amyloid; Amyloid Precursor Protein; Endosomes; Exosomes; APP C-terminal Fragments; Amyloid-β
6.  Sensory network dysfunction, behavioral impairments, and their reversibility in an Alzheimer’s β-amyloidosis mouse model 
The unique vulnerability of the olfactory system to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) provides a quintessential translational tool for understanding mechanisms of synaptic dysfunction and pathological progression in the disease. Using the Tg2576 mouse model of β-amyloidosis, we show aberrant, hyperactive olfactory network activity begins early in life, prior to detectable behavioral impairments or comparable hippocampal dysfunction and at a time when Aβ deposition is restricted to the olfactory bulb (OB). Hyperactive odor-evoked activity in the piriform cortex (PCX) and increased OB-PCX functional connectivity emerged at a time coinciding with olfactory behavior impairments. This hyperactive activity persisted until later-life when the network converted to a hyporesponsive state. This conversion was Aβ-dependent, as liver-x-receptor agonist treatment to promote Aβ degradation, rescued the hyporesponsive state and olfactory behavior. These data lend evidence to a novel working model of olfactory dysfunction in AD and, complimentary to other recent works, suggest that disease-relevant network dysfunction is highly dynamic and region specific, yet with lasting effects on cognition and behavior.
PMCID: PMC3417321  PMID: 22049439
Neural network; olfactory bulb; olfactory cortex; Amyloid-β; APP
7.  Cystatin C is released in association with exosomes: a new tool of neuronal communication which is unbalanced in Alzheimer’s Disease 
Neurobiology of aging  2009;32(8):1435-1442.
It has recently become clear that proteins associated with neurodegenerative disorders can be selectively incorporated into intraluminal vesicles of multivesicular bodies and subsequently released within exosomes. Multiple lines of research support a neuroprotective role for cystatin C in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Herein we demonstrate that cystatin C, a protein targeted to the classical secretory pathway by its signal peptide sequence, is also secreted by mouse primary neurons in association with exosomes. Immunoproteomic analysis using SELDI TOF MS revealed the presence in exosomes of at least 9 different cystatin C glycoforms. Moreover, the over-expression of familial AD-associated presenilin 2 mutations (PS2 M239I and PS2 T122R) resulted in reduced levels of all cystatin C forms (native and glycosylated) and of amyloid-β precursor protein (APP) metabolites within exosomes. A better understanding of the mechanisms involved in exosomal processing and release may have important implications for the fight against AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC2891183  PMID: 19773092
SELDI TOF MS; APP; Electron Microscopy; Glycosylation; Presenilin 2 mutations; Cystatin C; exosomes
8.  Therapeutic effects of remediating autophagy failure in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease by enhancing lysosomal proteolysis 
Autophagy  2011;7(7):788-789.
The extensive autophagic-lysosomal pathology in Alzheimer disease (AD) brain has revealed a major defect in the proteolytic clearance of autophagy substrates. Autophagy failure contributes on several levels to AD pathogenesis and has become an important therapeutic target for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases. We recently observed broad therapeutic effects of stimulating autophagic-lysosomal proteolysis in the TgCRND8 mouse model of AD that exhibits defective proteolytic clearance of autophagic substrates, robust intralysosomal amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) accumulation, extracellular β-amyloid deposition and cognitive deficits. By genetically deleting the lysosomal cysteine protease inhibitor, cystatin B (CstB), to selectively restore depressed cathepsin activities, we substantially cleared Aβ, ubiquitinated proteins and other autophagic substrates from autolysosomes/lysosomes and rescued autophagic-lysosomal pathology, as well as reduced total Aβ40/42 levels and extracellular amyloid deposition, highlighting the underappreciated importance of the lysosomal system for Aβ clearance. Most importantly, lysosomal remediation prevented the marked learning and memory deficits in TgCRND8 mice. Our findings underscore the pathogenic significance of autophagic-lysosomal dysfunction in AD and demonstrate the value of reversing this dysfunction as an innovative therapeutic strategy for AD.
PMCID: PMC3359468  PMID: 21464620
autophagy; lysosome; cathepsin; cystatin B; proteolysis; Alzheimer disease; transgenic
9.  Mechanisms of Neural and Behavioral Dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease 
Molecular neurobiology  2011;43(3):163-179.
This review critically examines progress in understanding the link between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) molecular pathogenesis and behavior, with an emphasis on the impact of amyloid-β. We present the argument that the AD research field requires more multi-faceted analyses into the impacts of Alzheimer’s pathogenesis which combine simultaneous molecular-, circuit-, and behavior-level approaches. Supporting this argument is a review of particular research utilizing similar, ‘systems-level’ methods in mouse models of AD. Related to this, a critique of common physiological and behavioral models is made – highlighting the likely usefulness of more refined and specific tools in understanding the relationship between candidate molecular pathologies and behavioral dysfunction. Finally, we propose challenges for future research which, if met, may greatly extend our current understanding of how AD molecular pathology impacts neural network function and behavior and possibly may lead to refinements in disease therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3090690  PMID: 21424679
Amyloid-β; APP; cognition; dementia; endocytosis; LTD; LTP; neural connectivity; presenilin; tau; rab5; synapse
10.  Reversal of autophagy dysfunction in the TgCRND8 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease ameliorates amyloid pathologies and memory deficits 
Brain  2010;134(1):258-277.
Autophagy, a major degradative pathway for proteins and organelles, is essential for survival of mature neurons. Extensive autophagic-lysosomal pathology in Alzheimer’s disease brain contributes to Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis, although the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we identified and characterized marked intraneuronal amyloid-β peptide/amyloid and lysosomal system pathology in the Alzheimer’s disease mouse model TgCRND8 similar to that previously described in Alzheimer’s disease brains. We further establish that the basis for these pathologies involves defective proteolytic clearance of neuronal autophagic substrates including amyloid-β peptide. To establish the pathogenic significance of these abnormalities, we enhanced lysosomal cathepsin activities and rates of autophagic protein turnover in TgCRND8 mice by genetically deleting cystatin B, an endogenous inhibitor of lysosomal cysteine proteases. Cystatin B deletion rescued autophagic-lysosomal pathology, reduced abnormal accumulations of amyloid-β peptide, ubiquitinated proteins and other autophagic substrates within autolysosomes/lysosomes and reduced intraneuronal amyloid-β peptide. The amelioration of lysosomal function in TgCRND8 markedly decreased extracellular amyloid deposition and total brain amyloid-β peptide 40 and 42 levels, and prevented the development of deficits of learning and memory in fear conditioning and olfactory habituation tests. Our findings support the pathogenic significance of autophagic-lysosomal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease and indicate the potential value of restoring normal autophagy as an innovative therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3009842  PMID: 21186265
autophagy; lysosome; cystatin B; cathepsin; Alzheimer’s disease
11.  Protective mechanisms by cystatin C in neurodegenerative diseases 
Neurodegeneration occurs in acute pathological conditions such as stroke, ischemia, and head trauma and in chronic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. While the cause of neuronal death is different and not always known in these varied conditions, hindrance of cell death would be beneficial in the prevention of, slowing of, or halting disease progression. Enhanced cystatin C (CysC) expression in these conditions caused a debate as to whether CysC up-regulation facilitates neurodegeneration or it is an endogenous neuroprotective attempt to prevent the progression of the pathology. However, recent in vitro and in vivo data have demonstrated that CysC plays protective roles via pathways that are dependent on inhibition of cysteine proteases, such as cathepsin B, or by induction of autophagy, induction of proliferation, and inhibition of amyloid-beta aggregation. Here we review the data demonstrating the protective roles of CysC under conditions of neuronal challenge and the protective pathways induced under various conditions. These data suggest that CysC is a therapeutic candidate that can potentially prevent brain damage and neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC3038625  PMID: 21196395
Cystatin C (CysC); Cathepsin; Proliferation; Autophagy; Amyloid; Neurodegeneration; Alzheimer’s disease; Review
12.  Cystatin C in Alzheimer's disease 
Changes in expression and secretion levels of cystatin C (CysC) in the brain in various neurological disorders and in animal models of neurodegeneration underscore a role for CysC in these conditions. A polymorphism in the CysC gene (CST3) is linked to increased risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). AD pathology is characterized by deposition of oligomeric and fibrillar forms of amyloid β (Aβ) in the neuropil and cerebral vessel walls, neurofibrillary tangles composed mainly of hyperphosphorylated tau, and neurodegeneration. The implication of CysC in AD was initially suggested by its co-localization with Aβ in amyloid-laden vascular walls, and in senile plaque cores of amyloid in the brains of patients with AD, Down's syndrome, hereditary cerebral hemorrhage with amyloidosis, Dutch type (HCHWA-D), and cerebral infarction. CysC also co-localizes with Aβ amyloid deposits in the brains of non-demented aged individuals. Multiple lines of research show that CysC plays protective roles in AD. In vitro studies have shown that CysC binds Aβ and inhibits Aβ oligomerization and fibril formation. In vivo results from the brains and plasma of Aβ-depositing transgenic mice confirmed the association of CysC with the soluble, non-pathological form of Aβ and the inhibition of Aβ plaques formation. The association of CysC with Aβ was also found in brain and in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from AD patients and non-demented control individuals. Moreover, in vitro results showed that CysC protects neuronal cells from a variety of insults that may cause cell death, including cell death induced by oligomeric and fibrillar Aβ. These data suggest that the reduced levels of CysC manifested in AD contribute to increased neuronal vulnerability and impaired neuronal ability to prevent neurodegeneration. This review elaborates on the neuroprotective roles of CysC in AD and the clinical relevance of this protein as a therapeutic agent.
PMCID: PMC3390601  PMID: 22783166
cystatin C; Alzheimer's disease; cerebral amyloidosis; amyloid; Aβ; neurodegeneration
13.  Days-to-criterion as an indicator of toxicity associated with human Alzheimer amyloid-β oligomers 
Annals of neurology  2010;68(2):220-230.
Recent evidence suggests that high molecular weight soluble oligomeric Aβ (oAβ) assemblies (also known as Aβ-derived diffusible ligands, or ADDLs) may represent a primary neurotoxic basis for cognitive failure in AD. To date, in vivo studies of oAβ/ADDLs have involved injection of assemblies purified from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of human subjects with Alzheimer’s disease or from the conditioned media of Aβ-secreting cells into experimental animals. We sought to study the bioactivities of endogenously formed oAβ/ADDLs generated in situ from the physiological processing of human APP transgenes.
We produced and histologically characterized single transgenic mice overexpressing APPE693Q or APPE693Q X PS1ΔE9 bigenic mice. APPE693Q mice were studied in the Morris water maze (MWM) task at 6 and 12 months of age. Following the second MWM evaluation, mice were sacrificed, and brains were assayed for Aβtotal, Aβ40, Aβ42, and oAβ/ADDL by ELISA and were also histologically examined. Based on results from the oAβ/ADDL ELISA, we assigned individual APPE693Q mice to either an “undetectable oAβ/ADDLs group” or a “readily detectable oAβ/ADDLs group”. A days-to-criterion (DTC) analysis was used to determine delays in acquisition of the MWM task.
Both single transgenic and bigenic mice developed intraneuronal accumulation of APP/Aβ, though only Dutch APPE693Q X PS1Δ9 bigenic mice developed amyloid plaques. The APPE693Q mice did not develop amyloid plaques at any age studied, up to 30 months. APPE693Q mice were tested for spatial learning and memory, and only 12-month old APPE693Q mice with readily detectable oAβ/ADDLs displayed a significant delay in acquisition of the MWM task when compared to NTg littermates.
These data suggest that cerebral oAβ/ADDL assemblies generated in brain in situ from human APP transgenes may be associated with cognitive impairment. We propose that a DTC analysis may be a sensitive method for assessing the cognitive impact in mice of endogenously generated oligomeric human Aβ assemblies.
PMCID: PMC3094694  PMID: 20641005
(1) Amyloid; (2) Alzheimer’s Disease; (3) Spatial Recognition; (4) Days-to-Criterion; (5) Amyloid Precursor Protein
14.  Cystatin C protects neuronal cells from amyloid β-induced toxicity 
Multiple studies suggest that cystatin C (CysC) has a role in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and a decrease in CysC secretion is linked to the disease in patients with a polymorphism in the CysC gene. CysC binds amyloid β (Aβ) and inhibits formation of Aβ fibrils and oligomers both in vitro and in mouse models of amyloid deposition. Here we studied the effect of CysC on cultured primary hippocampal neurons and a neuronal cell line exposed to either oligomeric or fibrillar cytotoxic forms of Aβ. The extracellular addition of the secreted human CysC together with preformed either oligomeric or fibrillar Aβ increased cell survival. While CysC inhibits Aβ aggregation, it does not dissolve preformed Aβ fibrils or oligomers. Thus, CysC has multiple protective effects in AD, by preventing the formation of the toxic forms of Aβ and by direct protection of neuronal cells from Aβ toxicity. Therapeutic manipulation of CysC levels, resulting in slightly higher concentrations than physiological could protect neuronal cells from cell death in Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC2889175  PMID: 20157244
amyloid Aβ; cystatin C; Alzheimer's disease; neurodegeneration; neuroprotection
15.  Age-dependent dysregulation of brain amyloid precursor protein in the Ts65Dn Down syndrome mouse model 
Journal of neurochemistry  2009;110(6):1818-1827.
Individuals with Down syndrome develop β-amyloid deposition characteristic of early-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) in mid-life, presumably due to an extra copy of the chromosome 21-located amyloid precursor protein (App) gene. App mRNA and APP metabolite levels were assessed in the brains of Ts65Dn mice, a mouse model of Down syndrome, using qPCR, Western blot analysis, immunoprecipitation, and ELISAs. In spite of the additional App gene copy, App mRNA, APP holoprotein, and all APP metabolite levels in the brains of 4-month-old trisomic mice were not increased compared to the levels seen in diploid littermate controls. However starting at 10 months of age, brain APP levels were increased proportional to the App gene dosage imbalance reflecting increased App message levels in Ts65Dn mice. Similar to APP, sAPPα and sAPPβ levels were increased in Ts65Dn mice compared to diploid mice at 12 months, but not at 4 months of age. Brain levels of both Aβ40 and Aβ42 were not increased in Ts65Dn mice compared with diploid mice at all ages examined. Therefore, multiple mechanisms contribute to the regulation towards diploid levels of APP metabolites in the Ts65Dn mouse brain.
PMCID: PMC2744432  PMID: 19619138
amyloid precursor protein (APP); Down syndrome; animal model; trisomy; Alzheimer's disease
16.  Olfactory Dysfunction Correlates with Amyloid-β Burden in an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model 
Alzheimer’s disease often results in impaired olfactory perceptual acuity–a potential biomarker of the disorder. However, the utility of olfactory screens to serve as informative indicators of Alzheimer’s is precluded by a lack of knowledge regarding why the disease impacts olfaction. We addressed this question by assaying olfactory perception and amyloid β (Aβ) deposition throughout the olfactory system in mice which overexpress mutated form of the human amyloid β precursor protein. Such mice displayed progressive olfactory deficits which mimic those observed clinically some evident upon 3 months of age. Also at 3 months of age we observed non-fibrillar Aβ deposition within the olfactory bulb earlier than deposition within any other brain region. There was also a correlation between olfactory deficits and the spatial-temporal pattern of Aβ deposition. Therefore, non-fibrillar, versus fibrillar Aβ-related mechanisms likely contribute to early olfactory perceptual loss in Alzheimer’s disease. Further, these results present the odor cross-habituation test as a powerful behavioral assay which reflects Aβ deposition and thus may serve to monitor the efficacy of therapies aimed at reducing Aβ.
PMCID: PMC2826174  PMID: 20071513
Amyloid-β; biomarker; piriform cortex; olfactory bulb; behavioral models; Neuropathology
17.  Induction of Autophagy by Cystatin C: A Mechanism That Protects Murine Primary Cortical Neurons and Neuronal Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9819.
Cystatin C (CysC) expression in the brain is elevated in human patients with epilepsy, in animal models of neurodegenerative conditions, and in response to injury, but whether up-regulated CysC expression is a manifestation of neurodegeneration or a cellular repair response is not understood. This study demonstrates that human CysC is neuroprotective in cultures exposed to cytotoxic challenges, including nutritional-deprivation, colchicine, staurosporine, and oxidative stress. While CysC is a cysteine protease inhibitor, cathepsin B inhibition was not required for the neuroprotective action of CysC. Cells responded to CysC by inducing fully functional autophagy via the mTOR pathway, leading to enhanced proteolytic clearance of autophagy substrates by lysosomes. Neuroprotective effects of CysC were prevented by inhibiting autophagy with beclin 1 siRNA or 3-methyladenine. Our findings show that CysC plays a protective role under conditions of neuronal challenge by inducing autophagy via mTOR inhibition and are consistent with CysC being neuroprotective in neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, modulation of CysC expression has therapeutic implications for stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.
PMCID: PMC2843718  PMID: 20352108
18.  A Recessive Mutation in the APP Gene with Dominant-Negative Effect on Amyloidogenesis 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;323(5920):1473-1477.
β-Amyloid precursor protein (APP) mutations cause familial Alzheimer’s disease with nearly complete penetrance. We found an APP mutation [alanine-673→valine-673 (A673V)] that causes disease only in the homozygous state, whereas heterozygous carriers were unaffected, consistent with a recessive Mendelian trait of inheritance. The A673V mutation affected APP processing, resulting in enhanced β-amyloid (Aβ) production and formation of amyloid fibrils in vitro. Co-incubation of mutated and wild-type peptides conferred instability on Aβ aggregates and inhibited amyloidogenesis and neurotoxicity. The highly amyloidogenic effect of the A673V mutation in the homozygous state and its anti-amyloidogenic effect in the heterozygous state account for the autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance and have implications for genetic screening and the potential treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC2728497  PMID: 19286555
19.  Systemic pathology in aged mouse models of Down's syndrome and Alzheimer's disease 
Down's syndrome (DS) in humans is caused by trisomy of chromosome 21 (HSA 21). DS patients have a variety of pathologies, including mental retardation and an unusually high incidence of leukemia or lymphoma such as megakaryocytic leukemia. Individuals with DS develop the characteristic neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in early adulthood, generally by the fourth decade of life. There are several mouse models of DS that have a segmental trisomy of mouse chromosome 16 (MMU 16) with triplicated genes orthologous to HSA 21. These mice display neurodegeneration similar to DS. Although brain pathology in DS models is known, little information is available about other organs. We studied the extraneural pathology in aged DS mice (Ts65Dn, Ts2 and Ts1Cje aged 8 to 24 months) as well as other mouse models of neurodegeneration, including presenilin (PS), amyloid-β precursor protein (APP), and tau (hTau and JNPL) transgenic mice. An increased incidence of peripheral amyloidosis, positive for amyloid A (AA) but not amyloid-β peptide (Aβ), was found in APP over-expressing and tauopathic mice as compared to nontransgenic (ntg) littermates or to DS mouse models. A higher incidence of lymphoma was found in the DS models, including Ts1Cje that is trisomic for a small segment of MMU 16 not including the App gene, but not in the APP over-expressing mice, suggesting that high APP expression is not the cause of lymphoma in DS. The occurrence of lymphomas in mouse DS models is of interest in relation to the increased incidence of malignant conditions in human DS.
PMCID: PMC2659493  PMID: 19041304
Ts65DN; Amyloid-β Precursor protein; Aβ; Presenilin; Tau; Transgenic; Lymphoma; Down's syndrome; Amyloidosis; Splenomegaly
20.  Complexes of Amyloid-β and Cystatin C in the Human Central Nervous System 
A role for cystatin C (CysC) in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been suggested by the genetic linkage of a CysC gene (CST3) polymorphism with late-onset AD, the co-localization of CysC with amyloid-β (Aβ) in AD brains, and binding of CysC to soluble Aβ in vitro and in mouse models of AD. This study investigates the binding between Aβ and CysC in the human central nervous system. While CysC binding to soluble Aβ was observed in AD patients and controls, a SDS-resistant CysC/Aβ complex was detected exclusively in brains of neuropathologically normal controls, but not in AD cases. The association of CysC with Aβ in brain from control individuals and in cerebrospinal fluid reveals an interaction of these two polypeptides in their soluble form. The association between Aβ and CysC prevented Aβ accumulation and fibrillogenesis in experimental systems, arguing that CysC plays a protective role in the pathogenesis of AD in humans and explains why decreases in CysC concentration caused by the CST3 polymorphism or by specific presenilin 2 mutations can lead to the development of the disease. Thus, enhancing CysC expression or modulating CysC binding to Aβ have important disease-modifying effects, suggesting a novel therapeutic intervention for AD.
PMCID: PMC2792995  PMID: 19584436
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β; amyloid-β protein precursor; cystatin C
21.  In Vivo Turnover of Tau and APP Metabolites in the Brains of Wild-Type and Tg2576 Mice: Greater Stability of sAPP in the β-Amyloid Depositing Mice 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e7134.
The metabolism of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and tau are central to the pathobiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). We have examined the in vivo turnover of APP, secreted APP (sAPP), Aβ and tau in the wild-type and Tg2576 mouse brain using cycloheximide to block protein synthesis. In spite of overexpression of APP in the Tg2576 mouse, APP is rapidly degraded, similar to the rapid turnover of the endogenous protein in the wild-type mouse. sAPP is cleared from the brain more slowly, particularly in the Tg2576 model where the half-life of both the endogenous murine and transgene-derived human sAPP is nearly doubled compared to wild-type mice. The important Aβ degrading enzymes neprilysin and IDE were found to be highly stable in the brain, and soluble Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels in both wild-type and Tg2576 mice rapidly declined following the depletion of APP. The cytoskeletal-associated protein tau was found to be highly stable in both wild-type and Tg2576 mice. Our findings unexpectedly show that of these various AD-relevant protein metabolites, sAPP turnover in the brain is the most different when comparing a wild-type mouse and a β-amyloid depositing, APP overexpressing transgenic model. Given the neurotrophic roles attributed to sAPP, the enhanced stability of sAPP in the β-amyloid depositing Tg2576 mice may represent a neuroprotective response.
PMCID: PMC2741602  PMID: 19771166
22.  Proteins that bind to the RERMS region of β amyloid precursor protein 
The main objective of this study was to investigate the biological function of β amyloid precursor protein (APP), in particular its nerve growth factor-like activity. We hypothesize that the extracellular domain containing the sequence RERMS, amino acids 328-332 of APP695, represents the active site for this function. Binding assays using peptide fragments of this domain have demonstrated specific and saturable binding to the cell surface with affinity in the low nanomolar range. This induced our quest for an APP-specific receptor. We chose different peptide fragments of the RERMS domain as ligands and displacing agents on affinity columns to purify APP binding molecules. Amino acid microsequencing yielded partial sequences of serum albumin, actin, two novel proteins of 41 and 63 kDa and human Collapsin Response Mediator Protein-2 (hCRMP-2). Because both APP and hCRMP-2 promote neuronal outgrowth and use a common signaling pathway, APP could be acting through a semaphorin receptor as well.
PMCID: PMC1896148  PMID: 17335780
β Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP); Neurotropic Activity; Receptor Candidates; Lipid Rafts; Semaphorin Family

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