First transgenic rat model developing progressive cortical neurofibrillary tangles.
ABSTRACT Neurofibrillary degeneration induced by misfolded protein tau is considered to be one of the key pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In the present study, we have introduced a novel transgenic rat model expressing a human truncated tau that encompasses 3 microtubule binding domains (3R) and a proline-rich region (3R tau151-391). The transgenic rats developed progressive age-dependent neurofibrillary degeneration in the cortical brain areas. Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) satisfied several key histological criteria used to identify neurofibrillary degeneration in human Alzheimer's disease including argyrophilia, Congo red birefringence, and Thioflavin S reactivity. Neurofibrillary tangles were also identified with antibodies used to detect pathologic tau in the human brain, including DC11, recognizing an abnormal tau conformation and antibodies that are specific for hyperphosphorylated forms of tau protein. Moreover, neurofibrillary degeneration was characterized by extensive formation of sarkosyl insoluble tau protein complexes consisting of rat endogenous and truncated tau species. Interestingly, the transgenic rats did not show neuronal loss either in the cortex or in the hippocampus. We suggest that novel transgenic rat model for human tauopathy represents a valuable tool in preclinical drug discovery targeting neurofibrillary degeneration of Alzheimer's type.
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ABSTRACT: We have identified structural determinants on tau protein that are essential for pathological tau-tau interaction in Alzheimer's disease (AD). These regulatory domains, revealed by monoclonal antibody DC8E8, represent a novel target for tau-directed therapy. In order to validate this target, we have developed an active vaccine, AADvac1. A tau peptide encompassing the epitope revealed by DC8E8 was selected for the development of an active vaccine targeting structural determinants on mis-disordered tau protein that are essential for pathological tau-tau interaction. The efficacy of the vaccine was tested in a transgenic rat model of human tauopathies. Toxicology and safety pharmacology studies were conducted under good laboratory practice conditions in multiple rodent and nonrodent species. We have administered the tau peptide vaccine to a rat model of AD to investigate whether the vaccine can improve its clinical, histopathological and biochemical AD phenotype. Our results show that vaccination induced a robust protective humoral immune response, with antibodies discriminating between pathological and physiological tau. Active immunotherapy reduced the levels of tau oligomers and the extent of neurofibrillary pathology in the brains of transgenic rats. Strikingly, immunotherapy has reduced AD-type hyperphosphorylation of tau by approximately 95%. Also, the tau peptide vaccine improved the clinical phenotype of transgenic animals. Toxicology and safety pharmacology studies showed an excellent safety and tolerability profile of the AADvac1 vaccine. Active immunisation targeting crucial domains of Alzheimer tau eliminated tau aggregation and neurofibrillary pathology. Most importantly, the AD type of tau hyperphosphorylation was abolished by vaccination across a wide range of AD phospho-epitopes. Our results demonstrate that active immunisation led to elimination of all major hallmarks of neurofibrillary pathology, which was reflected by a profound improvement in the clinical presentation of transgenic rats. This makes the investigated tau peptide vaccine a highly promising candidate therapeutic for the disease-modifying treatment of AD. The tested vaccine displayed a highly favourable safety profile in preclinical toxicity studies, which opens up the possibility of using it for AD prophylaxis in the future. The vaccine has already entered phase I clinical trial under the name AADvac1. Current Controlled Trials NCT01850238. Registered 7 May 2013.Alzheimer's Research and Therapy 01/2014; 6(4):44. · 3.50 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Neurofibrillary degeneration, driven by misfolded protein tau, spreads from the predisposed induction sites and advances in a topographically predictable sequence along connected brain areas. Several mouse model studies have demonstrated that some species of pathologically modified tau, namely insoluble fibrils and soluble oligomers, evoke propagation of the pathology. These results clearly show that the spreading potency of misfolded tau does not depend exclusively on its solubility and/or mutations. The candidate factor responsible for the progression of misfolded protein tau is its disease modified conformation. In this study, we address the question, whether insoluble tau complexes containing either 3R or 4R human misfolded truncated tau (AlzTau) command distinct infectivity and spreading potency. We found that insoluble tau isolated from transgenic rats (SHR24), expressing misfolded 3R AlzTau, was able to infect cortical neurons in the area of injection in SHR72 transgenic rats expressing 4R AlzTau. However this tau was not able to spread into other brain areas. In contrast, administration of insoluble tau isolated from SHR72 transgenic rats was not only able to infect cortical neurons but also induced extensive spreading of neurofibrillary tangles in the adjacent brain areas. These findings suggest the existence of various strains of disease modified tau, tauons displaying different infectivity and spreading potency. Furthermore, the presented rat tauopathy models could serve as a tool for identification and characterization of tauons isolated from Alzheimer's disease brains that would allow stratification of Alzheimer's disease patients.Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 01/2013; 37(3):569. · 3.61 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Pathologically modified tau protein is the main feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related tauopathies. Therefore, immunotherapies that target mis-disordered tau represent a promising avenue for the disease-modifying treatment of AD. In this report, we present our discovery of (1) a novel target for tau immunotherapy; (2) monoclonal antibody DC8E8, which neutralizes this target; and (3) the results of efficacy studies of DC8E8 in a murine model of tauopathy. In vitro tau oligomerisation assays were used for the selection of antibodies. The therapeutic efficacy of DC8E8 was evaluated in transgenic mice. The structure of the DC8E8 epitope was determined by X-ray crystallography. Screening of a panel of monoclonal antibodies for their inhibitory activity in an in vitro pathological tau-tau interaction assay yielded DC8E8, which reduced the amount of oligomeric tau by 84%. DC8E8 recognised all developmental stages of tau pathology in AD human brains, including pretangles and intra- and extracellular tangles. Treatment with DC8E8 in a mouse AD model expressing mis-disordered human tau significantly reduced the amount of insoluble oligomerised tau and the number of early and mature neurofibrillary tangles in the transgenic mouse brains. By using a panel of tau-derived peptides in a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, we identified the tau domain essential for pathological tau-tau interaction, which is targeted by DC8E8. The antibody was capable of binding to four highly homologous and yet independent binding regions on tau, each of which is a separate epitope. The X-ray structure of the DC8E8 Fab apo form, solved at 3.0 Å, suggested that the four DC8E8 epitopes form protruding structures on the tau molecule. Finally, by kinetic measurements with surface plasmon resonance, we determined that antibody DC8E8 is highly discriminatory between pathological and physiological tau. We have discovered defined determinants on mis-disordered truncated tau protein which are responsible for tau oligomerisation leading to neurofibrillary degeneration. Antibody DC8E8 reactive with these determinants is able to inhibit tau-tau interaction in vitro and in vivo. DC8E8 is able to discriminate between the healthy and diseased tau proteome, making its epitopes suitable targets, and DC8E8 a suitable candidate molecule, for AD immunotherapy.Alzheimer's Research and Therapy 01/2014; 6(4):45. · 3.50 Impact Factor