Article

Dendritic vulnerability in neurodegenerative disease: Insights from analyses of cortical pyramidal neurons in transgenic mouse models

M949, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, 02118, USA.
Brain Structure and Function (Impact Factor: 4.57). 02/2010; 214(2-3):181-99. DOI: 10.1007/s00429-010-0244-2
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, neuronal dendrites and dendritic spines undergo significant pathological changes. Because of the determinant role of these highly dynamic structures in signaling by individual neurons and ultimately in the functionality of neuronal networks that mediate cognitive functions, a detailed understanding of these changes is of paramount importance. Mutant murine models, such as the Tg2576 APP mutant mouse and the rTg4510 tau mutant mouse have been developed to provide insight into pathogenesis involving the abnormal production and aggregation of amyloid and tau proteins, because of the key role that these proteins play in neurodegenerative disease. This review showcases the multidimensional approach taken by our collaborative group to increase understanding of pathological mechanisms in neurodegenerative disease using these mouse models. This approach includes analyses of empirical 3D morphological and electrophysiological data acquired from frontal cortical pyramidal neurons using confocal laser scanning microscopy and whole-cell patch-clamp recording techniques, combined with computational modeling methodologies. These collaborative studies are designed to shed insight on the repercussions of dystrophic changes in neocortical neurons, define the cellular phenotype of differential neuronal vulnerability in relevant models of neurodegenerative disease, and provide a basis upon which to develop meaningful therapeutic strategies aimed at preventing, reversing, or compensating for neurodegenerative changes in dementia.

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    • "Following the well-known relationship between form and function in biological systems, recent in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that the morphology of spines relates closely to the function and plasticity of the synapses they belong to (Yuste et al., 2000; Trachtenberg et al., 2002; Mizrahi et al., 2004; Segal, 2005; Kasai et al., 2010). For example, the volume of the spine head is directly proportional to the area of the postsynaptic density and the number of synaptic vesicles docked at the presynaptic active zone (Harris and Stevens, 1989; Schikorski and Stevens, 1999), the number of postsynaptic receptors (Nusser et al., 1998), and hence to the size of synaptic currents and synaptic strength (Yuste and Bonhoeffer, 2001; Luebke et al., 2010). Two-photon uncaging of glutamate on large spines evoked "
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    • "Spines appear and disappear through life, but their turnover rate declines with the age and is regulated by the neuronal activity [18]. Dendritic spines undergo structural modifications when the synaptic strength is experimentally modified (e.g., by evoking long-term potentiation or long-term depression) [18] [22] [24]. "
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