Emerging pathways driving early synaptic pathology in Alzheimer's disease.
ABSTRACT: The current state of the AD research field is highly dynamic is some respects, while seemingly stagnant in others. Regarding the former, our current lack of understanding of initiating disease mechanisms, the absence of effective treatment options, and the looming escalation of AD patients is energizing new research directions including a much-needed re-focusing on early pathogenic mechanisms, validating novel targets, and investigating relevant biomarkers, among other exciting new efforts to curb disease progression and foremost, preserve memory function. With regard to the latter, the recent disappointing series of failed Phase III clinical trials targeting A? and APP processing, in concert with poor association between brain A? levels and cognitive function, have led many to call for a re-evaluation of the primacy of the amyloid cascade hypothesis. In this review, we integrate new insights into one of the earliest described signaling abnormalities in AD pathogenesis, namely intracellular Ca2+ signaling disruptions, and focus on its role in driving synaptic deficits - which is the feature that does correlate with AD-associated memory loss. Excess Ca2+release from intracellular stores such as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) has been well-described in cellular and animal models of AD, as well as human patients, and here we expand upon recent developments in ER-localized release channels such as the IP3R and RyR, and the recent emphasis on RyR2. Consistent with ER Ca2+ mishandling in AD are recent findings implicating aspects of SOCE, such as STIM2 function, and TRPC3 and TRPC6 levels. Other Ca2+-regulated organelles important in signaling and protein handling are brought into the discussion, with new perspectives on lysosomal regulation. These early signaling abnormalities are discussed in the context of synaptic pathophysiology and disruptions in synaptic plasticity with a particular emphasis on short-term plasticity deficits. Overall, we aim to update and expand the list of early neuronal signaling abnormalities implicated in AD pathogenesis, identify specific channels and organelles involved, and link these to proximal synaptic impairments driving the memory loss in AD. This is all within the broader goal of identifying novel therapeutic targets to preserve cognitive function in AD.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Identifying effective strategies to prevent memory loss in AD has eluded researchers to date, and likely reflects insufficient understanding of early pathogenic mechanisms directly affecting memory encoding. As synaptic loss best correlates with memory loss in AD, refocusing efforts to identify factors driving synaptic impairments may provide the critical insight needed to advance the field. In this study, we reveal a previously undescribed cascade of events underlying pre and postsynaptic hippocampal signaling deficits linked to cognitive decline in AD. These profound alterations in synaptic plasticity, intracellular Ca2+ signaling, and network propagation are observed in 3-4?month old 3xTg-AD mice, an age which does not yet show overt histopathology or major behavioral deficits. METHODS:In this study, we examined hippocampal synaptic structure and function from the ultrastructural level to the network level using a range of techniques including electron microscopy (EM), patch clamp and field potential electrophysiology, synaptic immunolabeling, spine morphology analyses, 2-photon Ca2+ imaging, and voltage-sensitive dye-based imaging of hippocampal network function in 3-4?month old 3xTg-AD and age/background strain control mice. RESULTS:In 3xTg-AD mice, short-term plasticity at the CA1-CA3 Schaffer collateral synapse is profoundly impaired; this has broader implications for setting long-term plasticity thresholds. Alterations in spontaneous vesicle release and paired-pulse facilitation implicated presynaptic signaling abnormalities, and EM analysis revealed a reduction in the ready-releasable and reserve pools of presynaptic vesicles in CA3 terminals; this is an entirely new finding in the field. Concurrently, increased synaptically-evoked Ca2+ in CA1 spines triggered by LTP-inducing tetani is further enhanced during PTP and E-LTP epochs, and is accompanied by impaired synaptic structure and spine morphology. Notably, vesicle stores, synaptic structure and short-term plasticity are restored by normalizing intracellular Ca2+ signaling in the AD mice. CONCLUSIONS:These findings suggest the Ca2+ dyshomeostasis within synaptic compartments has an early and fundamental role in driving synaptic pathophysiology in early stages of AD, and may thus reflect a foundational disease feature driving later cognitive impairment. The overall significance is the identification of previously unidentified defects in pre and postsynaptic compartments affecting synaptic vesicle stores, synaptic plasticity, and network propagation, which directly impact memory encoding.
Project description:Aging is often associated with a cognitive decline and a susceptibility to neuronal damage. It is also the most important risk factor for neurodegenerative disorders, particularly Alzheimer's disease (AD). AD is related to an excess of neurotoxic oligomers of amyloid ? peptide (A?o); however, the molecular mechanisms are still highly controversial. Intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis plays an important role in the control of neuronal activity, including neurotransmitter release, synaptic plasticity, and memory storage, as well as neuron cell death. Recent evidence indicates that long-term cultures of rat hippocampal neurons, resembling aged neurons, undergo cell death after treatment with A?o, whereas short-term cultures, resembling young neurons, do not. These in vitro changes are associated with the remodeling of intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis with aging, thus providing a simplistic model for investigating Ca2+ remodeling in aging. In vitro aged neurons show increased resting cytosolic Ca2+ concentration, enhanced Ca2+ store content, and Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Ca2+ transfer from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to mitochondria is also enhanced. Aged neurons also show decreased store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE), a Ca2+ entry pathway related to memory storage. At the molecular level, in vitro remodeling is associated with changes in the expression of Ca2+ channels resembling in vivo aging, including changes in N-methyl-D-aspartate NMDA receptor and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptor isoforms, increased expression of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU), and decreased expression of Orai1/Stim1, the molecular players involved in SOCE. Additionally, A?o treatment exacerbates most of the changes observed in aged neurons and enhances susceptibility to cell death. Conversely, the solely effect of A?o in young neurons is to increase ER-mitochondria colocalization and enhance Ca2+ transfer from ER to mitochondria without inducing neuronal damage. We propose that cultured rat hippocampal neurons may be a useful model to investigate Ca2+ remodeling in aging and in age-related neurodegenerative disorders.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder among the aged worldwide. AD is characterized by extensive synaptic and neuronal loss that leads to impaired memory and cognitive decline. The cause of AD is not completely understood and no effective therapy has been developed. The accumulation of toxic amyloid-beta42 (Abeta42) peptide oligomers and aggregates in AD brain has been proposed to be primarily responsible for the pathology of the disease, an idea dubbed the 'amyloid hypothesis' of AD etiology. In addition to the increase in Abeta42 levels, disturbances in neuronal calcium (Ca2+) signaling and alterations in expression levels of Ca2+ signaling proteins have been observed in animal models of familial AD and in studies of postmortem brain samples from sporadic AD patients. Based on these data, the 'Ca2+ hypothesis of AD' has been proposed. In particular, familial AD has been linked with enhanced Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum and elevated cytosolic Ca2+ levels. The augmented cytosolic Ca2+ levels can trigger signaling cascades that affect synaptic stability and function and can be detrimental to neuronal health, such as activation of calcineurin and calpains. Here we review the latest results supporting the 'Ca2+ hypothesis' of AD pathogenesis. We further argue that over time, supranormal cytosolic Ca2+ signaling can impair mitochondrial function in AD neurons. We conclude that inhibitors and stabilizers of neuronal Ca2+ signaling and mitochondrial function may have therapeutic potential for AD treatment. We also discuss latest and planned AD therapeutic trials of agents targeting Ca2+ channels and mitochondria.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The intermediate-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel KCa3.1 was recently shown to control the phenotype switch of reactive astrogliosis (RA) in Alzheimer's disease (AD). METHODS:KCa3.1 channels expression and cell localization in the brains of AD patients and APP/PS1 mice model were measured by immunoblotting and immunostaining. APP/PS1 mice and KCa3.1-/-/APP/PS1 mice were subjected to Morris water maze test to evaluate the spatial memory deficits. Glia activation and neuron loss was measured by immunostaining. Fluo-4AM was used to measure cytosolic Ca2+ level in ?-amyloid (A?) induced reactive astrocytes in vitro. RESULTS:KCa3.1 expression was markedly associated with endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and unfolded protein response (UPR) in both A?-stimulated primary astrocytes and brain lysates of AD patients and APP/PS1 AD mice. The KCa3.1 channel was shown to regulate store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) through an interaction with the Ca2+ channel Orai1 in primary astrocytes. Gene deletion or pharmacological blockade of KCa3.1 protected against SOCE-induced Ca2+ overload and ER stress via the protein kinase B (AKT) signaling pathway in astrocytes. Importantly, gene deletion or blockade of KCa3.1 restored AKT/mechanistic target of rapamycin signaling both in vivo and in vitro. Consistent with these in vitro data, expression levels of the ER stress markers 78-kDa glucose-regulated protein and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein, as well as that of the RA marker glial fibrillary acidic protein were increased in APP/PS1 AD mouse model. Elimination of KCa3.1 in KCa3.1-/-/APP/PS1 mice corrected these abnormal responses. Moreover, glial activation and neuroinflammation were attenuated in the hippocampi of KCa3.1-/-/APP/PS1 mice, as compared with APP/PS1 mice. In addition, memory deficits and neuronal loss in APP/PS1 mice were reversed in KCa3.1-/-/APP/PS1 mice. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, these results suggest that KCa3.1 is involved in the regulation of Ca2+ homeostasis in astrocytes and attenuation of the UPR and ER stress, thus contributing to memory deficits and neuronal loss.
Project description:Mushroom spines form strong synaptic contacts and are essential for memory storage. We have previously demonstrated that neuronal store-operated calcium entry (nSOC) in hippocampal neurons is regulated by STIM2 protein. This pathway plays a key role in stability of mushroom spines and is compromised in different mice models of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Actin was thought to be the sole cytoskeleton compartment presented in dendritic spines, however, recent studies demonstrated that dynamic microtubules with EB3 capped plus-ends transiently enter spines. We showed that STIM2 forms an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+ -dependent complex with EB3 via Ser-x-Ile-Pro aminoacid motif and that disruption of STIM2-EB3 interaction resulted in loss of mushroom spines in hippocampal neurons. Overexpression of EB3 causes increase of mushroom spines fraction and is able to restore their deficiency in hippocampal neurons obtained from PS1-M146V-KI AD mouse model. STIM2 overexpression failed to restore mushroom dendritic spines after EB3 knockdown, while in contrast EB3 overexpression rescued loss of mushroom spines resulting from STIM2 depletion. We propose that EB3 is involved in regulation of dendritic spines morphology, in part due to its association with STIM2, and that modulation of EB3 expression is a potential way to overcome synaptic loss during AD.
Project description:Intracellular Ca(2+) signaling is fundamental to neuronal physiology and viability. Because of its ubiquitous roles, disruptions in Ca(2+) homeostasis are implicated in diverse disease processes and have become a major focus of study in multifactorial neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease (AD). A hallmark of AD is the excessive production of beta-amyloid (Abeta) and its massive accumulation in amyloid plaques. In this minireview, we highlight the pathogenic interactions between altered cellular Ca(2+) signaling and Abeta in its different aggregation states and how these elements coalesce to alter the course of the neurodegenerative disease. Ca(2+) and Abeta intersect at several functional levels and temporal stages of AD, thereby altering neurotransmitter receptor properties, disrupting membrane integrity, and initiating apoptotic signaling cascades. Notably, there are reciprocal interactions between Ca(2+) pathways and amyloid pathology; altered Ca(2+) signaling accelerates Abeta formation, whereas Abeta peptides, particularly in soluble oligomeric forms, induce Ca(2+) disruptions. A degenerative feed-forward cycle of toxic Abeta generation and Ca(2+) perturbations results, which in turn can spin off to accelerate more global neuropathological cascades, ultimately leading to synaptic breakdown, cell death, and devastating memory loss. Although no cause or cure is currently known, targeting Ca(2+) dyshomeostasis as an underlying and integral component of AD pathology may result in novel and effective treatments for AD.
Project description:Synaptic dysfunction plays a central role in Alzheimer's disease (AD), since it drives the cognitive decline. An association between a polymorphism of the adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) encoding gene-ADORA2A, and hippocampal volume in AD patients was recently described. In this study, we explore the synaptic function of A2AR in age-related conditions. We report, for the first time, a significant overexpression of A2AR in hippocampal neurons of aged humans, which is aggravated in AD patients. A similar profile of A2AR overexpression in rats was sufficient to drive age-like memory impairments in young animals and to uncover a hippocampal LTD-to-LTP shift. This was accompanied by increased NMDA receptor gating, dependent on mGluR5 and linked to enhanced Ca2+ influx. We confirmed the same plasticity shift in memory-impaired aged rats and APP/PS1 mice modeling AD, which was rescued upon A2AR blockade. This A2AR/mGluR5/NMDAR interaction might prove a suitable alternative for regulating aberrant mGluR5/NMDAR signaling in AD without disrupting their constitutive activity.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by profound synapse loss and impairments of learning and memory. Magnesium affects many biochemical mechanisms that are vital for neuronal properties and synaptic plasticity. Recent studies have demonstrated that the serum and brain magnesium levels are decreased in AD patients; however, the exact role of magnesium in AD pathogenesis remains unclear. Here, we found that the intraperitoneal administration of magnesium sulfate increased the brain magnesium levels and protected learning and memory capacities in streptozotocin-induced sporadic AD model rats. We also found that magnesium sulfate reversed impairments in long-term potentiation (LTP), dendritic abnormalities, and the impaired recruitment of synaptic proteins. Magnesium sulfate treatment also decreased tau hyperphosphorylation by increasing the inhibitory phosphorylation of GSK-3? at serine 9, thereby increasing the activity of Akt at Ser473 and PI3K at Tyr458/199, and improving insulin sensitivity. We conclude that magnesium treatment protects cognitive function and synaptic plasticity by inhibiting GSK-3? in sporadic AD model rats, which suggests a potential role for magnesium in AD therapy.
Project description:The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) forms a complex endomembrane network that reaches into the cellular compartments of a neuron, including dendritic spines. Recent work discloses that the spine ER is a dynamic structure that enters and leaves spines. While evidence exists that ER Ca2+ release is involved in synaptic plasticity, the role of spine ER morphology remains unknown. Combining a new 3D spine generator with 3D Ca2+ modeling, we addressed the relevance of ER positioning on spine-to-dendrite Ca2+ signaling. Our simulations, which account for Ca2+ exchange on the plasma membrane and ER, show that spine ER needs to be present in distinct morphological conformations in order to overcome a barrier between the spine and dendritic shaft. We demonstrate that RyR-carrying spine ER promotes spine-to-dendrite Ca2+ signals in a position-dependent manner. Our simulations indicate that RyR-carrying ER can initiate time-delayed Ca2+ reverberation, depending on the precise position of the spine ER. Upon spine growth, structural reorganization of the ER restores spine-to-dendrite Ca2+ communication, while maintaining aspects of Ca2+ homeostasis in the spine head. Our work emphasizes the relevance of precise positioning of RyR-containing spine ER in regulating the strength and timing of spine Ca2+ signaling, which could play an important role in tuning spine-to-dendrite Ca2+ communication and homeostasis.
Project description:Soluble amyloid ? oligomers (A?Os) are widely recognized neurotoxins that trigger aberrant signaling in specific subsets of neurons, leading to accumulated neuronal damage and memory disorders in Alzheimer's disease (AD). One of the profound downstream consequences of A?O-triggered events is dysregulation of cytosolic calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i), which has been implicated in synaptic failure, cytoskeletal abnormalities, and eventually neuronal death. We have developed an in vitro/in vivo drug screening assay to evaluate putative A?O-blocking candidates by measuring A?O-induced real-time changes in [Ca2+]i. Our screening assay demonstrated that the anti-A?O monoclonal antibody ACU3B3 exhibits potent blocking capability against a broad size range of A?Os. We showed that picomolar concentrations of A?Os were capable of increasing [Ca2+]i in primary neuronal cultures, an effect prevented by ACU3B3. Topical application of 5?nM A?Os onto exposed cortical surfaces also elicited significant calcium elevations in vivo, which was completely abolished by pre-treatment of the brain with 1 ng/mL (6.67 pM) ACU3B3. Our results provide strong support for the utility of this functional screening assay in identifying and confirming the efficacy of A?O-blocking drug candidates such as the human homolog of ACU3B3, which may emerge as the first experimental AD therapeutic to validate the amyloid oligomer hypothesis.