Microglia in Alzheimer's Disease: A Role for Ion Channels.
ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, it is estimated to affect over 40 million people worldwide. Classically, the disease has been characterized by the neuropathological hallmarks of aggregated extracellular amyloid-? and intracellular paired helical filaments of hyperphosphorylated tau. A wealth of evidence indicates a pivotal role for the innate immune system, such as microglia, and inflammation in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease. The over production and aggregation of Alzheimer's associated proteins results in chronic inflammation and disrupts microglial clearance of these depositions. Despite being non-excitable, microglia express a diverse array of ion channels which shape their physiological functions. In support of this, there is a growing body of evidence pointing to the involvement of microglial ion channels contributing to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. In this review, we discuss the evidence for an array of microglia ion channels and their importance in modulating microglial homeostasis and how this process could be disrupted in Alzheimer's disease. One promising avenue for assessing the role that microglia play in the initiation and progression of Alzheimer's disease is through using induced pluripotent stem cell derived microglia. Here, we examine what is already understood in terms of the molecular underpinnings of inflammation in Alzheimer's disease, and the utility that inducible pluripotent stem cell derived microglia may have to advance this knowledge. We outline the variability that occurs between the use of animal and human models with regards to the importance of microglial ion channels in generating a relevant functional model of brain inflammation. Overcoming these hurdles will be pivotal in order to develop new drug targets and progress our understanding of the pathological mechanisms involved in Alzheimer's disease.
Project description:Increases in the activated state of microglia, the main neuroimmune cells, are widely reported in the brains of patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders. Microglia transform from the resting to the activated state by sensing their environment, aided by a variety of ion channels. To examine the effect of ion channels on microglial phenotypes, we conducted a systematic review of immunohistochemical analyses of these neuroimmune cells in animal models following administration of ion channel antagonists, compared to control conditions. A systematic search of the PubMed and Web of Science electronic databases using the PRISMA and WHO methodologies for systematic reviews yielded 15 original peer-reviewed studies. The majority (13 out of 15) of these studies reported a decrease in microglial activated state after ion signaling pharmacological blockade. The studies provide evidence that acute administration of ion channel antagonists leads to a reduction in microglial activation in rodent brains in the models for epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, inflammation, pain, ischemia, and brain and spinal cord injury. Future research should explore microglial-specific druggable targets for neurological and psychiatric disorders. The investigation of acute and chronic administration of ion channel antagonists in microglial phenotypes in primates and the development of microglia-like cells derived from human stem cells could be valuable sources in this direction.
Project description:Microglia are the "professional" phagocytes of the CNS. Phagocytosis is crucial for normal CNS development and maintenance, but it can be either beneficial or detrimental after injury or disease. For instance, white matter damage releases myelin debris that must be cleared by microglia in order for re-myelination to occur. However, phagocytosis can also produce damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS). Furthermore, microglia can acquire pro-inflammatory (M1) or anti-inflammatory (M2) activation states that affect cell functions. Although microglia are exposed to a changing cytokine environment after injury or disease, little is known about the molecular and functional consequences. Therefore, we applied several microglial activation paradigms, with or without myelin debris. We assessed (i) gene expression changes reflecting microglial activation and inflammatory states, and receptors and enzymes related to phagocytosis and ROS production, (ii) myelin phagocytosis and production of ROS, and (iii) expression and contributions of several ion channels that are considered potential targets for regulating microglial behavior.Primary rat microglia were exposed to cytokines, individually or sequentially. First, responses to individual M1 or M2 stimuli were compared: IFN-γ plus TNF-α ("I + T"; M1 activation), interleukin-4 (M2a/alternative activation), and interleukin-10 (M2c/acquired deactivation). Second, sequential cytokine addition was used to assess microglia repolarization and cell functions. The paradigms were M2a→M1, M2c→M1, M1→M2a, and M1→M2c.M1 stimulation increased pro-inflammatory genes, phagocytosis, and ROS, as well as expression of Kv1.3, KCa3.1, and Kir2.1 channels. M2a stimulation increased anti-inflammatory genes, ROS production, and Kv1.3 and KCa3.1 expression. Myelin phagocytosis enhanced the M1 profile and dampened the M2a profile, and both phagocytosis and ROS production were dependent on NOX enzymes and Kir2.1 and CRAC channels. Importantly, microglia showed some capacity for re-polarization between M1 and M2a states, based on gene expression changes, myelin phagocytosis, and ROS production.In response to polarizing and re-polarizing cytokine treatments, microglia display complex changes in gene transcription profiles, phagocytic capacity, NOX-mediated ROS production, and in ion channels involved in microglial activation. Because these changes might affect microglia-mediated CNS inflammation, they should be considered in future experimental, pre-clinical studies.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent type of dementia and is caused by the deposition of extracellular amyloid-beta and abnormal tau phosphorylation. Neuroinflammation has emerged as an additional pathological component. Microglia, representing the brain's major innate immune cells, play an important role during Alzheimer's. Once activated, microglia show changes in their morphology, characterized by a retraction of cell processes. Systemic inflammation is known to increase the risk for cognitive decline in human neurogenerative diseases including Alzheimer's. Here, we assess for the first time microglial changes upon a peripheral immune challenge in the context of aging and Alzheimer's in vivo, using 2-photon laser scanning microscopy. Microglia were monitored at 2 and 10 days post-challenge by lipopolysaccharide. Microglia exhibited a reduction in the number of branches and the area covered at 2 days, a phenomenon that resolved at 10 days. Systemic inflammation reduced microglial clearance of amyloid-beta in APP/PS1 mice. NLRP3 inflammasome knockout blocked many of the observed microglial changes upon lipopolysaccharide, including alterations in microglial morphology and amyloid pathology. NLRP3 inhibition may thus represent a novel therapeutic target that may protect the brain from toxic peripheral inflammation during systemic infection.
Project description:Microglia-mediated inflammation exerts adverse effects in ischemic stroke and in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Expression of the voltage-gated potassium channel Kv1.3 is required for microglia activation. Both genetic deletion and pharmacological inhibition of Kv1.3 are effective in reducing microglia activation and the associated inflammatory responses, as well as in improving neurological outcomes in animal models of AD and ischemic stroke. Here we sought to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of Kv1.3 inhibition, which remain incompletely understood. Using a combination of whole-cell voltage-clamp electrophysiology and quantitative PCR (qPCR), we first characterized a stimulus-dependent differential expression pattern for Kv1.3 and P2X4, a major ATP-gated cationic channel, both in vitro and in vivo. We then demonstrated by whole-cell current-clamp experiments that Kv1.3 channels contribute not only to setting the resting membrane potential but also play an important role in counteracting excessive membrane potential changes evoked by depolarizing current injections. Similarly, the presence of Kv1.3 channels renders microglia more resistant to depolarization produced by ATP-mediated P2X4 receptor activation. Inhibiting Kv1.3 channels with ShK-223 completely nullified the ability of Kv1.3 to normalize membrane potential changes, resulting in excessive depolarization and reduced calcium transients through P2X4 receptors. Our report thus links Kv1.3 function to P2X4 receptor-mediated signaling as one of the underlying mechanisms by which Kv1.3 blockade reduces microglia-mediated inflammation. While we could confirm previously reported differences between males and females in microglial P2X4 expression, microglial Kv1.3 expression exhibited no gender differences in vitro or in vivo. MAIN POINTS: The voltage-gated K+ channel Kv1.3 regulates microglial membrane potential. Inhibition of Kv1.3 depolarizes microglia and reduces calcium entry mediated by P2X4 receptors by dissipating the electrochemical driving force for calcium.
Project description:The discovery of TREM2 as a myeloid-specific Alzheimer's disease (AD) risk gene has accelerated research into the role of microglia in AD. While TREM2 mouse models have provided critical insight, the normal and disease-associated functions of TREM2 in human microglia remain unclear. To examine this question, we profile microglia differentiated from isogenic, CRISPR-modified TREM2-knockout induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines. By combining transcriptomic and functional analyses with a chimeric AD mouse model, we find that TREM2 deletion reduces microglial survival, impairs phagocytosis of key substrates including APOE, and inhibits SDF-1?/CXCR4-mediated chemotaxis, culminating in an impaired response to beta-amyloid plaques in vivo. Single-cell sequencing of xenotransplanted human microglia further highlights a loss of disease-associated microglial (DAM) responses in human TREM2 knockout microglia that we validate by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Taken together, these studies reveal both conserved and novel aspects of human TREM2 biology that likely play critical roles in the development and progression of AD.
Project description:Microglial dysfunction is increasingly recognized as a key contributor to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Environmental enrichment (EE) is well documented to enhance neuronal form and function, but almost nothing is known about whether and how it alters the brain's innate immune system. Here we found that prolonged exposure of naive wild-type mice to EE significantly altered microglial density and branching complexity in the dentate gyrus of hippocampus. In wild-type mice injected intraventricularly with soluble A? oligomers (oA?) from hAPP-expressing cultured cells, EE prevented several morphological features of microglial inflammation and consistently prevented oA?-mediated mRNA changes in multiple inflammatory genes both in vivo and in primary microglia cultured from the mice. Microdialysis in behaving mice confirmed that EE normalized increases in the extracellular levels of the key cytokines (CCL3, CCL4, TNF?) identified by the mRNA analysis. Moreover, EE prevented the changes in microglial gene expression caused by ventricular injection of oA? extracted directly from AD cerebral cortex. We conclude that EE potently alters the form and function of microglia in a way that prevents their inflammatory response to human oA?, suggesting that prolonged environmental enrichment could protect against AD by modulating the brain's innate immune system.Environmental enrichment (EE) is a potential therapy to delay Alzheimer's disease (AD). Microglial inflammation is associated with the progression of AD, but the influence of EE on microglial inflammation is unclear. Here we systematically applied in vivo methods to show that EE alters microglia in the dentate gyrus under physiological conditions and robustly prevents microglial inflammation induced by human A? oligomers, as shown by neutralized microglial inflammatory morphology, mRNA changes, and brain interstitial fluid cytokine levels. Our findings suggest that EE alters the innate immune system and could serve as a therapeutic approach to AD and provide new targets for drug discovery. Further, we propose that the therapeutic benefits of EE could extend to other neurodegenerative diseases involving microglial inflammation.
Project description:Microglial cells closely interact with senile plaques in Alzheimer's disease and acquire the morphological appearance of an activated phenotype. The significance of this microglial phenotype and the impact of microglia for disease progression have remained controversial. To uncover and characterize putative changes in the functionality of microglia during Alzheimer's disease, we directly assessed microglial behavior in two mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. Using in vivo two-photon microscopy and acute brain slice preparations, we found that important microglial functions - directed process motility and phagocytic activity - were strongly impaired in mice with Alzheimer's disease-like pathology compared to age-matched non-transgenic animals. Notably, impairment of microglial function temporally and spatially correlated with A? plaque deposition, and phagocytic capacity of microglia could be restored by interventionally decreasing amyloid burden by A? vaccination. These data suggest that major microglial functions progressively decline in Alzheimer's disease with the appearance of A? plaques, and that this functional impairment is reversible by lowering A? burden, e.g. by means of A? vaccination.
Project description:Microglia significantly contribute to the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease but an effective microglia-targeted therapeutic approach is not yet available clinically. The potassium channels Kv1.3 and Kir2.1 play important roles in regulating immune cell functions and have been implicated by in vitro studies in the 'M1-like pro-inflammatory' or 'M2-like anti-inflammatory' state of microglia, respectively. We here found that amyloid-? oligomer-induced expression of Kv1.3 and Kir2.1 in cultured primary microglia. Likewise, ex vivo microglia acutely isolated from the Alzheimer's model 5xFAD mice co-expressed Kv1.3 and Kir2.1 as well as markers traditionally associated with M1 and M2 activation suggesting that amyloid-? oligomer induces a microglial activation state that is more complex than previously thought. Using the orally available, brain penetrant small molecule Kv1.3 blocker PAP-1 as a tool, we showed that pro-inflammatory and neurotoxic microglial responses induced by amyloid-? oligomer required Kv1.3 activity in vitro and in hippocampal slices. Since we further observed that Kv1.3 was highly expressed in microglia of transgenic Alzheimer's mouse models and human Alzheimer's disease brains, we hypothesized that pharmacological Kv1.3 inhibition could mitigate the pathology induced by amyloid-? aggregates. Indeed, treating APP/PS1 transgenic mice with a 5-month oral regimen of PAP-1, starting at 9 months of age, when the animals already manifest cognitive deficits and amyloid pathology, reduced neuroinflammation, decreased cerebral amyloid load, enhanced hippocampal neuronal plasticity, and improved behavioural deficits. The observed decrease in cerebral amyloid deposition was consistent with the in vitro finding that PAP-1 enhanced amyloid-? uptake by microglia. Collectively, these results provide proof-of-concept data to advance Kv1.3 blockers to Alzheimer's disease clinical trials.
Project description:Recent genetic studies suggest a central role for innate immunity in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis, wherein microglia orchestrate neuroinflammation. Kv1.3, a voltage-gated potassium channel of therapeutic relevance in autoimmunity, is upregulated by activated microglia and mediates amyloid-mediated microglial priming and reactive oxygen species production in vitro. We hypothesized that Kv1.3 channel expression is increased in human AD brain tissue. In a blinded postmortem immunohistochemical semi-quantitative analysis performed on ten AD patients and ten non-disease controls, we observed a significantly higher Kv1.3 staining intensity (p = 0.03) and Kv1.3-positive cell density (p = 0.03) in the frontal cortex of AD brains, compared to controls. This paralleled an increased number of Iba1-positive microglia in AD brains. Kv1.3-positive cells had microglial morphology and were associated with amyloid-? plaques. In immunofluorescence studies, Kv1.3 channels co-localized primarily with Iba1 but not with astrocyte marker GFAP, confirming that elevated Kv1.3 expression is limited to microglia. Higher Kv1.3 expression in AD brains was also confirmed by western blot analysis. Our findings support that Kv1.3 channels are biologically relevant and microglia-specific targets in human AD.
Project description:Microglia, the innate immune cells of the CNS, perform critical inflammatory and noninflammatory functions that maintain normal neural function. For example, microglia clear misfolded proteins, elaborate trophic factors, and regulate and terminate toxic inflammation. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), however, beneficial microglial functions become impaired, accelerating synaptic and neuronal loss. Better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that contribute to microglial dysfunction is an important objective for identifying potential strategies to delay progression to AD. The inflammatory cyclooxygenase/prostaglandin E2 (COX/PGE2) pathway has been implicated in preclinical AD development, both in human epidemiology studies and in transgenic rodent models of AD. Here, we evaluated murine models that recapitulate microglial responses to A? peptides and determined that microglia-specific deletion of the gene encoding the PGE2 receptor EP2 restores microglial chemotaxis and A? clearance, suppresses toxic inflammation, increases cytoprotective insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) signaling, and prevents synaptic injury and memory deficits. Our findings indicate that EP2 signaling suppresses beneficial microglia functions that falter during AD development and suggest that inhibition of the COX/PGE2/EP2 immune pathway has potential as a strategy to restore healthy microglial function and prevent progression to AD.