Cytomegalovirus (CMV) has been suggested as a contributing force behind the impaired immune responsiveness in the elderly, with decreased numbers of naïve T-cells and an increased proportion of effector T-cells. Immunological impairment is also implicated as a part of the pathogenesis in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The aim of this study was to investigate whether AD patients present with a different CMV-specific CD8 immune profile compared to non-demented controls. Blood samples from 50 AD patients and 50 age-matched controls were analysed for HLA-type, CMV serostatus and systemic inflammatory biomarkers. Using multi-colour flow cytometry, lymphocytes from peripheral blood mononuclear cells were analysed for CMV-specific CD8 immunity with MHC-I tetramers A01, A02, A24, B07, B08 and B35 and further classified using CD27, CD28, CD45RA and CCR7 antibodies. Among CMV seropositive subjects, patients with AD had significantly lower proportions of CMV-specific CD8 T-cells compared to controls, 1.16 % vs. 4.13 % (p=0.0057). Regardless of dementia status, CMV seropositive subjects presented with a lower proportion of naïve CD8 cells and a higher proportion of effector CD8 cells compared to seronegative subjects. Interestingly, patients with AD showed a decreased proportion of CMV-specific CD8 cells but no difference in general CD8 differentiation.
Calcium signaling in the brain is fundamental to the learning and memory process and there is evidence to suggest that its dysfunction is involved in the pathological pathways underlying Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recently, the calcium hypothesis of AD has received support with the identification of the non-selective Ca2+-permeable channel CALHM1. A genetic polymorphism (p. P86L) in CALHM1 reduces plasma membrane Ca2+ permeability and is associated with an earlier age-at-onset of AD. To investigate the role of CALHM1 variants in early-onset AD (EOAD), we sequenced all CALHM1 coding regions in three independent series comprising 284 EOAD patients and 326 controls. Two missense mutations in patients (p.G330D and p.R154H) and one (p.A213T) in a control individual were identified. Calcium imaging analyses revealed that while the mutation found in a control (p.A213T) behaved as wild-type CALHM1 (CALHM1-WT), a complete abolishment of the Ca2+ influx was associated with the mutations found in EOAD patients (p.G330D and p.R154H). Notably, the previously reported p. P86L mutation was associated with an intermediate Ca2+ influx between the CALHM1-WT and the p.G330D and p.R154H mutations. Since neither expression of wild-type nor mutant CALHM1 affected amyloid ß-peptide (Aß) production or Aß-mediated cellular toxicity, we conclude that rare genetic variants in CALHM1 lead to Ca2+ dysregulation and may contribute to the risk of EOAD through a mechanism independent from the classical Aß cascade.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin-positive, tau-negative inclusions, and linkage to chromosome 17 was recently found to be caused by mutations in the progranulin (PGRN) gene. In this study, we screened a group of 51 FTLD patients for PGRN mutations and identified a novel exon 6 splice donor site deletion (IVS6+5_8delGTGA) in 2 unrelated patients. This mutation displayed an altered splicing pattern generating 2 aberrant transcripts and causing frameshifts of the coding sequence, premature termination codons, and a near absence of PGRN mRNA from the mutated alleles most likely through nonsense-mediated decay. The subsequent PGRN haploinsufficiency is consistent with previously described PGRN mutations. We present a molecular characterization of the IVS6+5_8delGTGA mutation and also describe clinical and neuropathologic features from the 2 patients carrying this PGRN mutation. From the screening of these 51 FTLD patients, we could also identify the earlier reported mutation Gln130fs, and several coding sequence variants that are most likely nonpathogenic.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; frontotemporal dementia; progranulin; ubiquitin; TDP-43
Neuroinflammation is typically observed in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as after traumatic injury and pathogen infection. Resident immune cells, microglia and astrocytes, are activated and joined by blood-borne monocytes that traverse the blood–brain barrier and convert into activated macrophages. The activated cells express various cytokines, chemokines and proteolytic enzymes. To study the role of heparan sulfate proteoglycans in neuroinflammation, we employed a transgenic mouse overexpressing heparanase, an endoglucuronidase that specifically degrades heparan sulfate side chains. Neuroinflammation was induced by systemic challenge with lipopolysaccharide, or by localized cerebral microinjection of aggregated amyloid-β peptide, implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Lipopolysaccharide-treated control mice showed massive activation of resident microglia as well as recruitment of monocyte-derived macrophages into the brain parenchyma. Microinjection of aggregated amyloid-β elicited a similar inflammatory response, albeit restricted to the injection site, which led to dispersion and clearance of the amyloid. In the heparanase-overexpressing mice, all aspects of immune cell recruitment and activation were significantly attenuated in both inflammation models, as was amyloid dispersion. Accordingly, an in vitro blood–brain barrier model constructed from heparanase-overexpressing cerebral vascular cells showed impaired transmigration of monocytes compared to a corresponding assembly of control cells. Our data indicate that intact heparan sulfate chains are required at multiple sites to mediate neuroinflammatory responses, and further point to heparanase as a modulator of this process, with potential implications for Alzheimer’s disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-012-0997-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Neuroinflammation; Heparan sulfate; Heparanase; Amyloid-β; Clearance; Alzheimer’s disease
Soluble amyloid-β (Aβ) aggregates of various sizes, ranging from dimers to large protofibrils, have been associated with neurotoxicity and synaptic dysfunction in Alzheimer's Disease (AD). To investigate the properties of biologically relevant Aβ species, brain extracts from amyloid β protein precursor (AβPP) transgenic mice and AD patients as well as synthetic Aβ preparations were separated by size under native conditions with density gradient ultracentrifugation. The fractionated samples were then analyzed with atomic force microscopy (AFM), ELISA, and MTT cell viability assay. Based on AFM appearance and immunoreactivity to our protofibril selective antibody mAb158, synthetic Aβ42 was divided in four fractions, with large aggregates in fraction 1 and the smallest species in fraction 4. Synthetic Aβ aggregates from fractions 2 and 3 proved to be most toxic in an MTT assay. In AβPP transgenic mouse brain, the most abundant soluble Aβ species were found in fraction 2 and consisted mainly of Aβ40. Also in AD brains, Aβ was mainly found in fraction 2 but primarily as Aβ42. All biologically derived Aβ from fraction 2 was immunologically discriminated from smaller species with mAb158. Thus, the predominant species of biologically derived soluble Aβ, natively separated by density gradient ultracentrifugation, were found to match the size of the neurotoxic, 80–500 kDa synthetic Aβ protofibrils and were equally detected with mAb158.
Recent research implicates soluble aggregated forms of α-synuclein as neurotoxic species with a central role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease and related disorders. The pathway by which α-synuclein aggregates is believed to follow a step-wise pattern, in which dimers and smaller oligomers are initially formed. Here, we used H4 neuroglioma cells expressing α-synuclein fused to hemi:GFP constructs to study the effects of α-synuclein monoclonal antibodies on the early stages of aggregation, as quantified by Bimolecular Fluorescence Complementation assay. Widefield and confocal microscopy revealed that cells treated for 48 h with monoclonal antibodies internalized antibodies to various degrees. C-terminal and oligomer-selective α-synuclein antibodies reduced the extent of α-synuclein dimerization/oligomerization, as indicated by decreased GFP fluorescence signal. Furthermore, ELISA measurements on lysates and conditioned media from antibody treated cells displayed lower α-synuclein levels compared to untreated cells, suggesting increased protein turnover. Taken together, our results propose that extracellular administration of monoclonal antibodies can modify or inhibit early steps in the aggregation process of α-synuclein, thus providing further support for passive immunization against diseases with α-synuclein pathology.
Several components in the Wnt pathway, including β-catenin and glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta, have been implied in AD pathogenesis. Here, mRNA brain levels from five-month-old tg-ArcSwe and nontransgenic mice were compared using Affymetrix microarray analysis. With surprisingly small overall changes, Wnt signaling was the most affected pathway with altered expression of nine genes in tg-ArcSwe mice. When analyzing mRNA levels of these genes in human brain, transcription factor 7-like 2 (TCF7L2) and v-myc myelocytomatosis viral oncogene homolog (MYC), were increased in Alzheimer's disease (AD) (P < .05). Furthermore, no clear differences in TCF7L2 and MYC mRNA were found in brains with frontotemporal lobar degeneration, suggesting that altered regulation of these Wnt-related genes could be specific to AD. Finally, mRNA levels of three neurogenesis markers were analyzed. Increased mRNA levels of dihydropyrimidinase-like 3 were observed in AD brain, suggesting that altered Wnt pathway regulation may signify synaptic rearrangement or neurogenesis.
Increasing age is associated with a poor prognosis following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Central nervous system axons may recover poorly following TBI due to expression of myelin-derived inhibitors to axonal outgrowth such as Nogo-A. To study the role of Nogo-A/B in the pathophysiological response of the elderly to TBI, 1-year old mice deficient in Nogo-A/B (Nogo-A/B homozygous −/− mice), Nogo-A/B heterozygous −/+ mice, and age-matched wild-type (WT) littermate controls were subjected to a controlled cortical impact (CCI) TBI. Sham-injured WT mice (7 months old) and 12 months old naïve Nogo-A/B−/− and Nogo-A/B−/+ served as controls. Neurological motor function was evaluated up to 3 weeks, and cognitive function, hemispheric tissue loss, myelin staining and hippocampal β-amyloid (Aβ) immunohistochemistry was evaluated at 4 weeks post-injury. In WT littermates, TBI significantly impaired learning ability at 4 weeks and neurological motor function up to 2 weeks post-injury and caused a significant loss of hemispheric tissue. Following TBI, Nogo-A/B−/− mice showed significantly less recovery from neurological motor deficits compared to brain-injured WT mice. Naïve Nogo-A/B−/−and Nogo-A/B−/+ mice quickly learned the MWM task in contrast to brain-injured Nogo-A/B−/− mice who failed to learn the MWM task at 4 week post-injury. Hemispheric tissue loss and cortical lesion volume was similar among the brain-injured genotypes. Neither TBI nor the absence of NogoA/B caused an increased Aβ expression. Myelin staining showed a reduced area and density in the corpus callosum in brain-injured Nogo-A/B−/−animals compared to their littermate controls. These novel and unexpected behavioral results demonstrate that the absence of Nogo-A/B may negatively influence outcome, possibly related to hypomyelination, following TBI in mice and suggest a complex role for this myelin-associated axonal growth inhibitor following TBI.
Traumatic brain injury; Nogo-A; Nogo-B; Morris Water Maze; neurological motor deficits
Protein aggregation plays important roles in several neurodegenerative disorders. For instance, insoluble aggregates of phosphorylated tau and of Aβ peptides are cornerstones in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease. Soluble protein aggregates are therefore potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for their cognate disorders. Detection of the aggregated species requires sensitive tools that efficiently discriminate them from monomers of the same proteins. Here we have established a proximity ligation assay (PLA) for specific and sensitive detection of Aβ protofibrils via simultaneous recognition of three identical determinants present in the aggregates. PLA is a versatile technology in which the requirement for multiple target recognitions is combined with the ability to translate signals from detected target molecules to amplifiable DNA strands, providing very high specificity and sensitivity.
For specific detection of Aβ protofibrils we have used a monoclonal antibody, mAb158, selective for Aβ protofibrils in a modified PLA, where the same monoclonal antibody was used for the three classes of affinity reagents required in the assay. These reagents were used for detection of soluble Aβ aggregates in solid-phase reactions, allowing detection of just 0.1 pg/ml Aβ protofibrils, and with a dynamic range greater than six orders of magnitude. Compared to a sandwich ELISA setup of the same antibody the PLA increases the sensitivity of the Aβ protofibril detection by up to 25-fold. The assay was used to measure soluble Aβ aggregates in brain homogenates from mice transgenic for a human allele predisposing to Aβ aggregation.
The proximity ligation assay is a versatile analytical technology for proteins, which can provide highly sensitive and specific detection of Aβ aggregates - and by implication other protein aggregates of relevance in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Recently, the P86L alteration in CALHM1 (calcium homeostasis modulator-1) was reported to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Moreover, the risk allele increased amyloid-β (Aβ) levels in conditioned media from cultured cells. Therefore, we hypothesized that CALHM1 P86L may modulate Aβ or tau levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Nearly 200 individuals with AD or other cognitive disorders were included for CSF analysis and CALHM1 genotyping. No significant differences in CSF levels of Aβ42, tau or phospho-tau were found across the various CALHM1 genotypes. In conclusion, we found no evidence that CALHM1 P86L is associated with altered CSF levels of the investigated AD biomarkers.
CALHM1; Calcium homeostasis modulator-1; Amyloid-β; Alzheimer’s disease; Cerebrospinal fluid; Biomarker; Total tau; Phospho-tau; Genotyping SNP
Amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) plaques, one of the major neuropathological lesions in Alzheimer's disease (AD), can be broadly subdivided into two morphological categories: neuritic and diffuse. Heparan sulfate (HS) and HS proteoglycans (HSPGs) are codeposits of multiple amyloidoses, including AD. Although HS has been considered a limiting factor in the initiation of amyloid deposition, the pathological implications of HS in Aβ deposits of AD remain unclear. In this study, immunohistochemistry combined with fluorescence and confocal microscopy was employed to gain deeper insight into the accumulation of HS with Aβ plaques in sporadic and familial AD. Here we demonstrate that HS preferentially accumulated around the Aβ40 dense cores of neuritic plaques, but was largely absent from diffuse Aβ42 plaques, suggesting that Aβ42 deposition may occur independently of HS. A codeposition pattern of HS with Aβ deposits in Tg2576 mice was also examined. We identified the membrane-bound HSPGs, glypican-1 (GPC1) and syndecan-3 (SDC3), in glial cells associated with Aβ deposits, proximal to sites of HS accumulation. In mouse primary glial cultures, we observed increased levels of GPC1 and SDC3 following Aβ stimulation. These results suggest that HS codeposits with Aβ40 in neuritic plaques and is mainly derived from glial cells.
b-Amyloid; glial cells; heparan sulfate
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.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β protofibrils; Arctic mutation; transgenic mice; spatial learning
Common FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene variants have recently been strongly associated with body mass index and obesity in several large studies. Here we set out to examine the association of the FTO variant rs9939609 with BMI in a 32 year follow up study of men born 1920-1924. Moreover, we analyzed the effect of physical activity on the different genotypes.
The FTO rs9936609 was genotyped using an Illumina golden gate assay. BMI was calculated using standard methods and body fat was estimated by measuring skinfold thickness using a Harpenden caliper. Physical activity was assessed using a four question medical questionnaire.
FTO rs9939609 was genotyped in 1153 elderly Swedish men taking part of a population-based cohort study, the ULSAM cohort. The risk of obesity and differences in BMI according to genotype at the ages of 50, 60, 70, 77 and 82 were investigated. We found no increased risk of obesity and no association with BMI at any age with the FTO rs9939609 variant. We found however interaction between physical activity at the age of 50 years and genotype on BMI levels (p = 0.039) and there was a clear trend towards larger BMI differences between the TT and AA carriers as well as between AT and AA carriers in the less physically active subjects.
Here we found that the well established obesity risk allele for a common variant in FTO does not associate with increased BMI levels in a Swedish population of adult men which reached adulthood before the appearance of today's obesogenic enviroment. There is an interaction between physical activity and the effect of the FTO genotype on BMI levels suggesting that lack of physical activity is a requirement for an association of FTO gene variants to obesity.
The presence of AβpE3 (N-terminal truncated Aβ starting with pyroglutamate) in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has received considerable attention since the discovery that this peptide represents a dominant fraction of Aβ peptides in senile plaques of AD brains. This was later confirmed by other reports investigating AD and Down’s syndrome postmortem brain tissue. Importantly, AβpE3 has a higher aggregation propensity, and stability, and shows an increased toxicity compared to full-length Aβ. We have recently shown that intraneuronal accumulation of AβpE3 peptides induces a severe neuron loss and an associated neurological phenotype in the TBA2 mouse model for AD. Given the increasing interest in AβpE3, we have generated two novel monoclonal antibodies which were characterized as highly specific for AβpE3 peptides and herein used to analyze plaque deposition in APP/PS1KI mice, an AD model with severe neuron loss and learning deficits. This was compared with the plaque pattern present in brain tissue from sporadic and familial AD cases. Abundant plaques positive for AβpE3 were present in patients with sporadic AD and familial AD including those carrying mutations in APP (arctic and Swedish) and PS1. Interestingly, in APP/PS1KI mice we observed a continuous increase in AβpE3 plaque load with increasing age, while the density for Aβ1-x plaques declined with aging. We therefore assume that, in particular, the peptides starting with position 1 of Aβ are N-truncated as disease progresses, and that, AβpE3 positive plaques are resistant to age-dependent degradation likely due to their high stability and propensity to aggregate.
Transgenic mice; Arctic mutation; Swedish mutation; Presenilin-1 mutation; Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease; Pyroglutamate Abeta; Biacore; Antibody specificity
Genome-wide linkage studies for Alzheimer's disease have implicated several chromosomal regions as potential loci for susceptibility genes.
In the present study, we have combined a selection of affected relative pairs (ARPs) from the UK and the USA included in a previous linkage study by Myers et al. (Am J Med Genet, 2002), with ARPs from Sweden and Washington University. In this total sample collection of 397 ARPs, we have analyzed linkage to chromosomes 1, 9, 10, 12, 19 and 21, implicated in the previous scan.
The analysis revealed that linkage to chromosome 19q13 close to the APOE locus increased considerably as compared to the earlier scan. However, linkage to chromosome 10q21, which provided the strongest linkage in the previous scan could not be detected.
The present investigation provides yet further evidence that 19q13 is the only chromosomal region consistently linked to Alzheimer's disease.
We have studied the impact of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) on the chromosome 19 linkage peak from an analysis of sib-pairs affected by Alzheimer’s disease. We genotyped 417 affected sib-pairs (ASPs) collected in Sweden and Norway (SWE), the UK and the USA for 10 microsatellite markers on chromosome 19. The highest Zlr (3.28, chromosome-wide P-value 0.036) from the multipoint linkage analysis was located approximately 1 Mb from APOE, at marker D19S178. The linkage to chromosome 19 was well explained by APOE in the whole sample as well as in the UK and USA subsamples, as identity by descent (IBD) increased with the number of ε4 alleles in ASPs. There was a suggestion from the SWE subsample that linkage was higher than would be expected from APOE alone, although the test for this did not reach formal statistical significance. There was also a significant age at onset (aao) effect on linkage to chromosome 19q13 in the whole sample, which manifested itself as increased IBD sharing in relative pairs with lower mean aao. This effect was partially, although not completely, explained by APOE. The aao effect varied considerably between the different subsamples, with most of the effect coming from the UK sample. The other samples showed smaller effects in the same direction, but these were not significant.
Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; linkage; age at onset; apolipoprotein E
A majority of mutations within the amyloid β (Aβ) region of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene cause inherited forms of intracerebral haemorrhage. Most of these mutations may also cause cognitive impairment, but the Arctic APP mutation is the only known intra-Aβ mutation to date causing the more typical clinical picture of Alzheimer's disease (AD).
To describe features of one Swedish and one American family with the previously reported Arctic APP mutation.
Affected and non-affected carriers of the Arctic APP mutation from the Swedish and American families were investigated clinically. In addition, one brain from each family was investigated neuropathologically.
The clinical picture, with age at disease onset in the sixth to seventh decade of life and dysfunction in multiple cognitive areas, is indicative of AD and similar to the phenotype for other AD APP mutations. Several affected mutation carriers displayed general brain atrophy and reduced blood flow of the parietal lobe, as demonstrated by magnetic resonance imaging and single photon emission computed tomography. One Swedish and one American case with the Arctic APP mutation have come to autopsy, neither of which showed any signs of haemorrhage but revealed severe congophilic angiopathy, region-specific neurofibrillary tangle pathology as well as abundant amyloid plaques. Intriguingly, a majority of plaques from both of these cases had a characteristic ring-like character.
Overall, our findings corroborate that the Arctic APP mutation causes a clinical and neuropathological picture compatible with AD.
Familial Alzheimer's disease; APP gene mutations; Arctic mutation; cerebral amyloid angiopathy; dementia; genealogy
It has previously been shown that immune complexes (IC) of a given biomarker with class M immunoglobulins (IgM) provide better performances compared to the unbound biomarker in a number of cancer entities. In the present work, we investigated IC of IgM-Aβ as a potential biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Aβ–IgM concentration has been measured in 75 plasma samples from patients with AD, individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and healthy age- and sex-matched controls (HC). To characterize the fractions associated with Aβ, pooled plasma samples were subjected to gel-filtration analysis. Size-separated fractions were analyzed for the presence of Aβ using a sandwich ELISA assay. A strong reactivity was observed in the high molecular weight IgM (>500 kDa) and 150 kDa (IgG) fractions indicating that blood Aβ is strongly associated with antibodies. Using an ELISA assay detecting Aβ–IgM complexes, we observed that high levels of Aβ–IgMs were detectable in HC and MCI patients; however, there was no significant difference to the AD group.
Alzheimer’s disease; Immune complexes; Aβ; Biomarkers; Plasma