Synthetic Tau Fibrils Mediate Transmission of Neurofibrillary Tangles in a Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer's-Like Tauopathy

Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, Institute on Aging, Department of Pathology and Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 01/2013; 33(3):1024-37. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2642-12.2013
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with tau pathologies, are neurodegenerative diseases characterized by neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) comprising filamentous tau protein. Although emerging evidence suggests that tau pathology may be transmitted, we demonstrate here that synthetic tau fibrils are sufficient to transmit tau inclusions in a mouse model. Specifically, intracerebral inoculation of young PS19 mice overexpressing mutant human tau (P301S) with synthetic preformed fibrils (pffs) assembled from recombinant full-length tau or truncated tau containing four microtubule binding repeats resulted in rapid induction of NFT-like inclusions that propagated from injected sites to connected brain regions in a time-dependent manner. Interestingly, injection of tau pffs into either hippocampus or striatum together with overlaying cortex gave rise to distinct pattern of spreading. Moreover, unlike tau pathology that spontaneously develops in old PS19 mice, the pff-induced tau inclusions more closely resembled AD NFTs because they were Thioflavin S positive, acetylated, and more resistant to proteinase K digestion. Together, our study demonstrates that synthetic tau pffs alone are capable of inducing authentic NFT-like tau aggregates and initiating spreading of tau pathology in a tauopathy mouse model.

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