Age-Related Changes in Brain Extracellular Space Affect Processing of Amyloid-β Peptides in Alzheimer's Disease.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD (Impact Factor: 4.15). 01/2013; 35(1). DOI: 10.3233/JAD-122305
Source: PubMed


Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disease in which aging is not only a major risk factor but a major determinant of onset, course, and pathogenesis. The synthesis of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides by neurons and their excretion into the extracellular space (ECS) is a core feature of AD that begins more than two decades before the onset of clinical symptoms. The ECS resembles a syncytium with the appearance in electron micrographs of continuous channels and lakes separating the outer membranes of the neurons, neuroglia, and vascular elements embedded in it. It consists primarily of a proteoglycan matrix through which circulates an interstitial fluid, derived in part from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The process by which Aβ accumulates in the ECS includes decreased production of CSF, matrix proteoglycans, and ECS volume, all of which become more severe with advancing age and lead to an age-related increase in the Aβ pool. Although the relationship between Aβ and the appearance of cognitive symptoms is uncertain, available data support a strong relationship between the toxicity of Aβ for neurons and the total Aβ burden, including the soluble and fibrillar Aβ, the Aβ42/Aβ40 ratio, and Aβ-proteoglycan reactivity. Proteoglycans have been shown to foster the formation of neurotoxic fibrillar Aβ42 and neuritic plaques that enhance neuronal and synaptic damage and eventual loss culminating in the onset and progression of dementia. As this process depends upon age-related events, it suggests that the successful control of AD lies in finding effective means of prevention.

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    ABSTRACT: An essential component of the brain extracellular space is the extracellular matrix contributing to the spatial assembly of cells by binding cell-surface adhesion molecules, supporting cell migration, differentiation, and tissue development. The most interesting and complex functions of the central nervous system are the abilities to encode new information (learning) and to store this information (memory). The creation of perineuronal nets, consisting mostly of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, stabilizes the synapses and memory trails and forms protective shields against neurodegenerative processes but terminates plasticity and the potential for recovery of the tissue. Age-related changes in the extracellular matrix composition and the extracellular space volume and permissivity are major determinants of the onset and development of the most common neurodegenerative disorder, Alzheimer's disease. In this regard, heparan sulfate proteoglycans, involved in amyloid clearance from the brain, play an important role in Alzheimer's disease and other types of neurodegeneration. Additional key players in the modification of the extracellular matrix are matrix metalloproteinases. Recent studies show that the extracellular matrix and matrix metalloproteinases are important regulators of plasticity, learning, and memory and might be involved in different neurological disorders like epilepsy, schizophrenia, addiction, and dementia. The identification of molecules and mechanisms that modulate these processes is crucial for the understanding of brain function and dysfunction and for the design of new therapeutic approaches targeting the molecular mechanism underlying these neurological disorders.
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