Retinal macroglia changes in a triple transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.
ABSTRACT: The retinas of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and transgenic AD animal models display amyloid beta deposits and degeneration of ganglion cells. Little is known, however, about the glial changes in the AD retina. The present study used a triple transgenic mouse model (3xTG-AD), which carries mutated human amyloid precursor protein, tau, and presenilin 1 genes and closely mimics the human brain pathology, to investigate retinal glial changes in AD. AD cognitive symptoms are known to begin in the 3xTG-AD mice at four months of age but plaques and tangles are not seen until six to twelve months. Müller cells in 3xTG-AD animals were GFAP-positive, indicating activation, at the earliest time point investigated, nine months. Astrocyte activation was also suggested in the 3xTG-AD mice by an apparent increase in size and process number. Another glial marker, S100, was expressed by astrocytes in both the non-transgenic (NTG) controls and 3xTG-AD retinas. Labeling was predominantly nuclear in nine month non-transgenic (NTG) control mice but was also seen in the cytoplasm and processes at 18 months of age. Interestingly, the nuclear localization was not as prominent in the 3xTG-AD retina even at nine months with labeling observed in astrocyte processes. The diffusion of S100 suggests the possible secretion of this protein, as is seen in the brain, with age and, more profoundly, associated with AD. Several dense, abnormally shaped, opaque structures were noted in all 3xTG-AD mice investigated. These structures, which were enveloped by GFAP and S100-positive astrocytes and Müller cells, were positive for amyloid beta, suggesting that they are amyloid plaques. Staining control retinas with amyloid showed similar structures in 30% of NTG animals but these were fewer in number and not associated with glial activation. The results herein indicate retinal glia activation in the 3xTG-AD mouse retina.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common dementia worldwide. According to the amyloid hypothesis, the early accumulation of the A?-peptide triggers tau phosphorylation, synaptic dysfunction, and eventually neuronal death leading to cognitive impairment, as well as behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. ScFv-h3D6 is a single-chain variable fragment that has already shown its ability to diminish the amyloid burden in 5-month-old 3xTg-AD mice. However, tau pathology is not evident at this early stage of the disease in this mouse model. In this study, the effects of scFv-h3D6 on A? and tau pathologies have been assessed in 22-month-old 3xTg-AD mice. Briefly, 3xTg-AD female mice were treated for 2 weeks with scFv-h3D6 and compared with 3xTg-AD and non-transgenic (NTg) mice treated with PBS. The treatment with scFv-h3D6 was unequivocally effective in reducing the area of A? staining. Furthermore, a tendency for a reduction in tau levels was also observed after treatment that points to the interplay between A? and tau pathologies. The pro-inflammatory state observed in the 3xTg-AD mice did not progress after scFv-h3D6 treatment. In addition, the treatment did not alter the levels of apolipoprotein E or apolipoprotein J. Thus, a 2-week treatment with scFv-h3D6 was able to reduce AD-like pathology in elderly 3xTg-AD female mice.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly. In the pathogenesis of AD a pivotal role is played by two neurotoxic proteins that aggregate and accumulate in the central nervous system: amyloid beta and hyper-phosphorylated tau. Accumulation of extracellular amyloid beta plaques and intracellular hyper-phosphorylated tau tangles, and consequent neuronal loss begins 10-15 years before any cognitive impairment. In addition to cognitive and behavioral deficits, sensorial abnormalities have been described in AD patients and in some AD transgenic mouse models. Retina can be considered a simple model of the brain, as some pathological changes and therapeutic strategies from the brain may be observed or applicable to the retina. Here we propose new retinal biomarkers that could anticipate the AD diagnosis and help the beginning and the follow-up of possible future treatments. We analyzed retinal tissue of triple-transgenic AD mouse model (3xTg-AD) for the presence of pathological hallmarks during disease progression. We found the presence of amyloid beta plaques, tau tangles, neurodegeneration, and astrogliosis in the retinal ganglion cell layer of 3xTg-AD mice, already at pre-symptomatic stage. Moreover, retinal microglia in pre-symptomatic mice showed a ramified, anti-inflammatory phenotype which, during disease progression, switches to a pro-inflammatory, less ramified one, becoming neurotoxic. We hypothesize retina as a window through which monitor AD-related neurodegeneration process.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia in the world. The main biomarkers associated with AD are protein amyloid-? (A?) plaques and protein tau neurofibrillary tangles, which are responsible for brain neuroinflammation mediated by microglial cells. Increasing evidence has shown that the retina can also be affected in AD, presenting some molecular and cellular changes in the brain, such as microglia activation. However, there are only a few studies assessing such changes in the retinal microglia in animal models of AD. These studies use retinal sections, which have some limitations. In this study, we performed, for the first time in a triple-transgenic AD mouse model (3xTg-AD), a quantitative morphometric analysis of microglia activation (using the anti-Iba-1 antibody) in retinal whole-mounts, allowing visualization of the entire microglial cell, as well as its localization along the extension of the retina in different layers. Compared to age-matched animals, the retina of 3xTg-AD mice presents a higher number of microglial cells and a thicker microglial cell body area. Moreover, the microglia migrate, reorient, and retract their processes, changing their localization from a parallel to a perpendicular position relative to the retinal surface. These findings demonstrate clear microglia remodeling in the retina of 3xTg-AD mice.
Project description:There is increasing recognition that visual performance is impaired in early stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD); however, no consensus exists as to the mechanisms underlying this visual dysfunction, in particular regarding the timing, nature, and extent of retinal versus cortical pathology. If retinal pathology presents sufficiently early, it offers great potential as a source of novel biomarkers for disease diagnosis. The current project utilized an array of immunochemical and molecular tools to perform a characterization of retinal pathology in the early stages of disease progression using a well-validated mouse model of AD (APPSWE/PS1?E9). Analytical endpoints included examination of aberrant amyloid and tau in the retina, quantification of any neuronal degeneration, delineation of cellular stress responses of neurons and particularly glial cells, and investigation of oxidative stress. Brain, eyes, and optic nerves were taken from transgenic and wild-type mice of 3 to 12 months of age and processed for immunohistochemistry, qPCR, or western immunoblotting. The results revealed robust expression of the human APP transgene in the retinas of transgenic mice, but a lack of identifiable retinal pathology during the period when amyloid deposits were dramatically escalating in the brain. We were unable to demonstrate the presence of amyloid plaques, dystrophic neurites, neuronal loss, macro- or micro-gliosis, aberrant cell cycle re-entry, oxidative stress, tau hyperphosphorylation, or upregulations of proinflammatory cytokines or stress signaling molecules in the retina. The overall results do not support the hypothesis that detectable retinal pathology occurs concurrently with escalating amyloid deposition in the brains of APPSWE/PS1?E9 mice.
Project description:Tau is an axon-enriched protein that binds to and stabilizes microtubules, and hence plays a crucial role in neuronal function. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), pathological tau accumulation correlates with cognitive decline. Substantial visual deficits are found in individuals affected by AD including a preferential loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), the neurons that convey visual information from the retina to the brain. At present, however, the mechanisms that underlie vision changes in these patients are poorly understood. Here, we asked whether tau plays a role in early retinal pathology and neuronal dysfunction in AD.Alterations in tau protein and gene expression, phosphorylation, and localization were investigated by western blots, qPCR, and immunohistochemistry in the retina and visual pathways of triple transgenic mice (3xTg) harboring mutations in the genes encoding presenilin 1 (PS1M146 V), amyloid precursor protein (APPSwe), and tau (MAPTP301L). Anterograde axonal transport was assessed by intraocular injection of the cholera toxin beta subunit followed by quantification of tracer accumulation in the contralateral superior colliculus. RGC survival was analyzed on whole-mounted retinas using cell-specific markers. Reduction of tau expression was achieved following intravitreal injection of targeted siRNA.Our data demonstrate an age-related increase in endogenous retinal tau characterized by epitope-specific hypo- and hyper-phosphorylation in 3xTg mice. Retinal tau accumulation was observed as early as three months of age, prior to the reported onset of behavioral deficits, and preceded tau aggregation in the brain. Intriguingly, tau build up occurred in RGC soma and dendrites, while tau in RGC axons in the optic nerve was depleted. Tau phosphorylation changes and missorting correlated with substantial defects in anterograde axonal transport that preceded RGC death. Importantly, targeted siRNA-mediated knockdown of endogenous tau improved anterograde transport along RGC axons.Our study reveals profound tau pathology in the visual system leading to early retinal neuron damage in a mouse model of AD. Importantly, we show that tau accumulation promotes anterograde axonal transport impairment in vivo, and identify this response as an early feature of neuronal dysfunction that precedes cell death in the AD retina. These findings provide the first proof-of-concept that a global strategy to reduce tau accumulation is beneficial to improve axonal transport and mitigate functional deficits in AD and tauopathies.
Project description:Accumulation of amyloid-? plaques and tau contribute to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), but it is unclear whether targeting tau pathology by antioxidants independently of amyloid-? causes beneficial effects on memory and neuropsychiatric symptoms. Selenium, an essential antioxidant element reduced in the aging brain, prevents development of neuropathology in AD transgenic mice at early disease stages. The therapeutic potential of selenium for ameliorating or reversing neuropsychiatric and cognitive behavioral symptoms at late AD stages is largely unknown. Here, we evaluated the effects of chronic dietary sodium selenate supplementation for 4 months in female 3xTg-AD mice at 12-14 months of age. Chronic sodium selenate treatment efficiently reversed hippocampal-dependent learning and memory impairments, and behavior- and neuropsychiatric-like symptoms in old female 3xTg-AD mice. Selenium significantly decreased the number of aggregated tau-positive neurons and astrogliosis, without globally affecting amyloid plaques, in the hippocampus of 3xTg-AD mice. These results indicate that selenium treatment reverses AD-like memory and neuropsychiatric symptoms by a mechanism involving reduction of aggregated tau and/or reactive astrocytes but not amyloid pathology. These results suggest that sodium selenate could be part of a combined therapeutic approach for the treatment of memory and neuropsychiatric symptoms in advanced AD stages.
Project description:Age and Alzheimer's disease (AD) share some common features such as cognitive impairments, memory loss, metabolic disturbances, bioenergetic deficits, and inflammation. Yet little is known on how systematic shifts in metabolic networks depend on age and AD. In this work, we investigated the global metabolomic alterations in non-transgenic (NTg) and triple-transgenic (3xTg-AD) mouse brain hippocampus as a function of age by using untargeted Ultrahigh Performance Liquid Chromatography-tandem Mass Spectroscopy (UPLC-MS/MS). We observed common metabolic patterns with aging in both NTg and 3xTg-AD brains involved in energy-generating pathways, fatty acids oxidation, glutamate, and sphingolipid metabolism. We found age-related downregulation of metabolites from reactions in glycolysis that consumed ATP and in the TCA cycle, especially at NAD+/NADH-dependent redox sites, where age- and AD-associated limitations in the free NADH may alter reactions. Conversely, metabolites increased in glycolytic reactions in which ATP is produced. With age, inputs to the TCA cycle were increased including fatty acid ?-oxidation and glutamine. Overall age- and AD-related changes were?>?2-fold when comparing the declines of upstream metabolites of NAD+/NADH-dependent reactions to the increases of downstream metabolites (p?=?10-5, n?=?8 redox reactions). Inflammatory metabolites such as ceramides and sphingosine-1-phosphate also increased with age. Age-related decreases in glutamate, GABA, and sphingolipid were seen which worsened with AD genetic load in 3xTg-AD brains, possibly contributing to synaptic, learning- and memory-related deficits. The data support the novel hypothesis that age- and AD-associated metabolic shifts respond to NAD(P)+/NAD(P)H redox-dependent reactions, which may contribute to decreased energetic capacity.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized in the late stages by amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Nevertheless, recent evidence has indicated that early changes in cerebral connectivity could compromise cognitive functions even before the appearance of the classical neuropathological features. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) and volumetry were performed in the triple transgenic mouse model of AD (3xTg-AD) at 2 months of age, prior to the development of intraneuronal plaque accumulation. We found the 3xTg-AD had significant fractional anisotropy (FA) increase and radial diffusivity (RD) decrease in the cortex compared with wild-type controls, while axial diffusivity (AD) and mean diffusivity (MD) were similar. Interhemispheric hippocampal connectivity was decreased in the 3xTg-AD while connectivity in the caudate putamen (CPu) was similar to controls. Most surprising, ventricular volume in the 3xTg-AD was four times larger than controls. The results obtained in this study characterize the early stage changes in interhemispheric hippocampal connectivity in the 3xTg-AD mouse that could represent a translational biomarker to human models in preclinical stages of the AD.
Project description:The Calcium-Sensing Receptor (CaSR) is a G-protein coupled, 7-transmembrane domain receptor ubiquitously expressed throughout the body, brain including. The role of CaSR in the CNS is not well understood; its expression is increasing during development, which has been implicated in memory formation and consolidation, and CaSR localization in nerve terminals has been related to synaptic plasticity and neurotransmission. There is an emerging evidence of CaSR involvement in neurodegenerative disorders and Alzheimer's disease (AD) in particular, where the over-production of ?-amyloid peptides was reported to activate CaSR. In the present study, we performed CaSR immunohistochemical and densitometry analysis in the triple transgenic mouse model of AD (3xTg-AD). We found an increase in the expression of CaSR in hippocampal CA1 area and in dentate gyrus in the 3xTg-AD mice when compared to non-transgenic control animals. This increase was significant at 9 months of age and further increased at 12 and 18 months of age. This increase paralleled the accumulation of ?-amyloid plaques with age. Increased expression of CaSR favors ?-amyloidogenic pathway following direct interactions between ?-amyloid and CaSR and hence may contribute to the pathological evolution of the AD. In the framework of this paradigm CaSR may represent a novel therapeutic target.
Project description:Mitochondrial dysfunction has been proposed to play a pivotal role in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). To address whether mitochondrial dysfunction precedes the development of AD pathology, we conducted mitochondrial functional analyses in female triple transgenic Alzheimer's mice (3xTg-AD) and age-matched nontransgenic (nonTg). Mitochondrial dysfunction in the 3xTg-AD brain was evidenced by decreased mitochondrial respiration and decreased pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) protein level and activity as early as 3 months of age. 3xTg-AD mice also exhibited increased oxidative stress as manifested by increased hydrogen peroxide production and lipid peroxidation. Mitochondrial amyloid beta (Abeta) level in the 3xTg-AD mice was significantly increased at 9 months and temporally correlated with increased level of Abeta binding to alcohol dehydrogenase (ABAD). Embryonic neurons derived from 3xTg-AD mouse hippocampus exhibited significantly decreased mitochondrial respiration and increased glycolysis. Results of these analyses indicate that compromised mitochondrial function is evident in embryonic hippocampal neurons, continues unabated in females throughout the reproductive period, and is exacerbated during reproductive senescence. In nontransgenic control mice, oxidative stress was coincident with reproductive senescence and accompanied by a significant decline in mitochondrial function. Reproductive senescence in the 3xTg-AD mouse brain markedly exacerbated mitochondrial dysfunction. Collectively, the data indicate significant mitochondrial dysfunction occurs early in AD pathogenesis in a female AD mouse model. Mitochondrial dysfunction provides a plausible mechanistic rationale for the hypometabolism in brain that precedes AD diagnosis and suggests therapeutic targets for prevention of AD.