Lysosomal dysfunction in the brain of a mouse model with intraneuronal accumulation of carboxyl terminal fragments of the amyloid precursor protein
Recent data suggest that intraneuronal accumulation of metabolites of the amyloid-beta-precursor protein (APP) is neurotoxic. We observed that transgenic mice overexpressing in neurons a human APP gene harboring the APPE693Q (Dutch) mutation have intraneuronal lysosomal accumulation of APP carboxylterminal fragments (APP-CTFs) and oligomeric amyloid beta (oAbeta) but no histological evidence of amyloid deposition. Morphometric quantification using the lysosomal marker protein 2 (LAMP-2) immunolabeling showed higher neuronal lysosomal counts in brain of 12-months-old APPE693Q as compared with age-matched non-transgenic littermates, and western blots showed increased lysosomal proteins including LAMP-2, cathepsin D and LC3. At 24 months of age, these mice also exhibited an accumulation of alpha-synuclein in the brain, along with increased conversion of LC3-I to LC3-II, an autophagosomal/autolysosomal marker. In addition to lysosomal changes at 12 months of age, these mice developed cholinergic neuronal loss in the basal forebrain, GABAergic neuronal loss in the cortex, hippocampus and basal forebrain and gliosis and microgliosis in the hippocampus. These findings suggest a role for the intraneuronal accumulation of oAbeta and APP-CTFs and resultant lysosomal pathology at early stages of Alzheimer's disease-related pathology.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 25 October 2016; doi:10.1038/mp.2016.189.
Apolipoprotein E4 causes early olfactory network abnormalities and short-term olfactory memory impairments
While apolipoprotein (Apo)E4 is linked to increased incidence of Alzheimer's disease (AD), there is growing evidence that it plays a role in functional brain irregularities that are independent of AD pathology. However, ApoE4-driven functional differences within olfactory processing regions have yet to be examined. Utilizing knock-in mice humanized to ApoE4 versus the more common ApoE3, we examined a simple olfactory perceptual memory that relies on the transfer of information from the olfactory bulb (OB) to the piriform cortex (PCX), the primary cortical region involved in higher order olfaction. In addition, we have recorded in vivo resting and odor-evoked local field potentials (LPF) from both brain regions and measured corresponding odor response magnitudes in anesthetized young (6-month-old) and middle-aged (12-month-old) ApoE mice. Young ApoE4 compared to ApoE3 mice exhibited a behavioral olfactory deficit coinciding with hyperactive odor-evoked response magnitudes within the OB that were not observed in older ApoE4 mice. Meanwhile, middle-aged ApoE4 compared to ApoE3 mice exhibited heightened response magnitudes in the PCX without a corresponding olfactory deficit, suggesting a shift with aging in ApoE4-driven effects from OB to PCX. Interestingly, the increased ApoE4-specific response in the PCX at middle-age was primarily due to a dampening of baseline spontaneous activity rather than an increase in evoked response power. Our findings indicate that early ApoE4-driven olfactory memory impairments and OB network abnormalities may be a precursor to later network dysfunction in the PCX, a region that not only is targeted early in AD, but may be selectively vulnerable to ApoE4 genotype.
A Method for Isolation of Extracellular Vesicles and Characterization of Exosomes from Brain Extracellular Space
Extracellular vesicles (EV), including exosomes, secreted vesicles of endocytic origin, and microvesicles derived from the plasma membrane, have been widely isolated and characterized from conditioned culture media and bodily fluids. The difficulty in isolating EV from tissues, however, has hindered their study in vivo. Here, we describe a novel method designed to isolate EV and characterize exosomes from the extracellular space of brain tissues. The purification of EV is achieved by gentle dissociation of the tissue to free the brain extracellular space, followed by sequential low-speed centrifugations, filtration, and ultracentrifugations. To further purify EV from other extracellular components, they are separated on a sucrose step gradient. Characterization of the sucrose step gradient fractions by electron microscopy demonstrates that this method yields pure EV preparations free of large vesicles, subcellular organelles, or debris. The level of EV secretion and content are determined by assays for acetylcholinesterase activity and total protein estimation, and exosomal identification and protein content are analyzed by Western blot and immuno-electron microscopy. Additionally, we present here a method to delipidate EV in order to improve the resolution of downstream electrophoretic analysis of EV proteins.
Exosomes in the Diseased Brain: First Insights from In vivo Studies
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are nanoscale size vesicles secreted by cells and are important mediators of intercellular communication and genetic exchange. Exosomes, EVs generated in endosomal multivesicular bodies, have been the focus of numerous publications as they have emerged as clinically valuable markers of disease states. Exosomes have been mostly studied from conditioned culture media and body fluids, with the difficulty of isolating exosomes from tissues having delayed their study in vivo. The implementation of a method designed to isolate exosomes from tissues, however, has yielded the first insights into characteristics of exosomes in the brain. It has been observed that brain exosomes from murine models of neurodegenerative diseases and human postmortem brains tend to mirror the protein content of the cells of origin, and interestingly, they are enriched with toxic proteins. Whether this enrichment with neurotoxic proteins is beneficial by relieving neurons of accumulated toxic material or detrimental to the brain by propagating pathogenicity throughout the brain remains to be answered. Here is summarized the first group of studies describing exosomes isolated from brain, results that demonstrate that exosomes in vivo reflect complex multicellular pathogenic processes in neurodegenerative disorders and the brain's response to injury and damage.
The Endosomal-Lysosomal Pathway Is Dysregulated by APOE4 Expression in Vivo
Possession of the Îµ4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE) is the major genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). Although numerous hypotheses have been proposed, the precise cause of this increased AD risk is not yet known. In order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of APOE4's role in AD, we performed RNA-sequencing on an AD-vulnerable vs. an AD-resistant brain region from aged APOE targeted replacement mice. This transcriptomics analysis revealed a significant enrichment of genes involved in endosomal-lysosomal processing, suggesting an APOE4-specific endosomal-lysosomal pathway dysregulation in the brains of APOE4 mice. Further analysis revealed clear differences in the morphology of endosomal-lysosomal compartments, including an age-dependent increase in the number and size of early endosomes in APOE4 mice. These findings directly link the APOE4 genotype to endosomal-lysosomal dysregulation in an in vivo, AD pathology-free setting, which may play a causative role in the increased incidence of AD among APOE4 carriers.
Cystatin C in aging and in Alzheimer's disease
Under normal conditions, the function of catalytically active proteases is regulated, in part, by their endogenous inhibitors, and any change in the synthesis and/or function of a protease or its endogenous inhibitors may result in inappropriate protease activity. Altered proteolysis as a result of an imbalance between active proteases and their endogenous inhibitors can occur during normal aging, and such changes have also been associated with multiple neuronal diseases, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), rare heritable neurodegenerative disorders, ischemia, some forms of epilepsy, and Alzheimer's disease (AD). One of the most extensively studied endogenous inhibitor is the cysteine-protease inhibitor cystatin C (CysC). Changes in the expression and secretion of CysC in the brain have been described in various neurological disorders and in animal models of neurodegeneration, underscoring a role for CysC in these conditions. In the brain, multiple in vitro and in vivo findings have demonstrated that CysC plays protective roles via pathways that depend upon the inhibition of endosomal-lysosomal pathway cysteine proteases, such as cathepsin B (Cat B), via the induction of cellular autophagy, via the induction of cell proliferation, or via the inhibition of amyloid-beta (Abeta) aggregation. We review the data demonstrating the protective roles of CysC under conditions of neuronal challenge and the protective pathways induced by CysC under various conditions. Beyond highlighting the essential role that balanced proteolytic activity plays in supporting normal brain aging, these findings suggest that CysC is a therapeutic candidate that can potentially prevent brain damage and neurodegeneration.
Autophagy dysfunction and regulatory cystatin C in macrophage death of atherosclerosis
Autophagy dysfunction in mouse atherosclerosis models has been associated with increased lipid accumulation, apoptosis and inflammation. Expression of cystatin C (CysC) is decreased in human atheroma, and CysC deficiency enhances atherosclerosis in mice. Here, we first investigated the association of autophagy and CysC expression levels with atheroma plaque severity in human atherosclerotic lesions. We found that autophagy proteins Atg5 and LC3beta in advanced human carotid atherosclerotic lesions are decreased, while markers of dysfunctional autophagy p62/SQSTM1 and ubiquitin are increased together with elevated levels of lipid accumulation and apoptosis. The expressions of LC3beta and Atg5 were positively associated with CysC expression. Second, we investigated whether CysC expression is involved in autophagy in atherosclerotic apoE-deficient mice, demonstrating that CysC deficiency (CysC-/- ) in these mice results in reduction of Atg5 and LC3beta levels and induction of apoptosis. Third, macrophages isolated from CysC-/- mice displayed increased levels of p62/SQSTM1 and higher sensitivity to 7-oxysterol-mediated lysosomal membrane destabilization and apoptosis. Finally, CysC treatment minimized oxysterol-mediated cellular lipid accumulation. We conclude that autophagy dysfunction is a characteristic of advanced human atherosclerotic lesions and is associated with reduced levels of CysC. The deficiency of CysC causes autophagy dysfunction and apoptosis in macrophages and apoE-deficient mice. The results indicate that CysC plays an important regulatory role in combating cell death via the autophagic pathway in atherosclerosis.
Partial BACE1 reduction in a Down syndrome mouse model blocks Alzheimer-related endosomal anomalies and cholinergic neurodegeneration: role of APP-CTF
beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP) and amyloid beta peptide (Abeta) are strongly implicated in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis, although recent evidence has linked APP-betaCTF generated by BACE1 (beta-APP cleaving enzyme 1) to the development of endocytic abnormalities and cholinergic neurodegeneration in early AD. We show that partial BACE1 genetic reduction prevents these AD-related pathological features in the Ts2 mouse model of Down syndrome. Partially reducing BACE1 by deleting one BACE1 allele blocked development of age-related endosome enlargement in the medial septal nucleus, cerebral cortex, and hippocampus and loss of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-positive medial septal nucleus neurons. BACE1 reduction normalized APP-betaCTF elevation but did not alter Abeta40 and Abeta42 peptide levels in brain, supporting a critical role in vivo for APP-betaCTF in the development of these abnormalities. Although ameliorative effects of BACE1 inhibition on beta-amyloidosis and synaptic proteins levels have been previously noted in AD mouse models, our results highlight the additional potential value of BACE1 modulation in therapeutic targeting of endocytic dysfunction and cholinergic neurodegeneration in Down syndrome and AD.
Correction: MiR-21 in Extracellular Vesicles Leads to Neurotoxicity via TLR7 Signaling in SIV Neurological Disease [Correction]
MiR-21 in Extracellular Vesicles Leads to Neurotoxicity via TLR7 Signaling in SIV Neurological Disease
Recent studies have found that extracellular vesicles (EVs) play an important role in normal and disease processes. In the present study, we isolated and characterized EVs from the brains of rhesus macaques, both with and without simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) induced central nervous system (CNS) disease. Small RNA sequencing revealed increased miR-21 levels in EVs from SIV encephalitic (SIVE) brains. In situ hybridization revealed increased miR-21 expression in neurons and macrophage/microglial cells/nodules during SIV induced CNS disease. In vitro culture of macrophages revealed that miR-21 is released into EVs and is neurotoxic when compared to EVs derived from miR-21-/- knockout animals. A mutation of the sequence within miR-21, predicted to bind TLR7, eliminates this neurotoxicity. Indeed miR-21 in EV activates TLR7 in a reporter cell line, and the neurotoxicity is dependent upon TLR7, as neurons isolated from TLR7-/- knockout mice are protected from neurotoxicity. Further, we show that EVs isolated from the brains of monkeys with SIV induced CNS disease activates TLR7 and were neurotoxic when compared to EVs from control animals. Finally, we show that EV-miR-21 induced neurotoxicity was unaffected by apoptosis inhibition but could be prevented by a necroptosis inhibitor, necrostatin-1, highlighting the actions of this pathway in a growing number of CNS disorders.