[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a genetic autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease caused by the expansion of a CAG repeat in the huntingtin (htt) gene. This triplet expansion encodes a polyglutamine stretch (polyQ) in the N-terminus of the high molecular weight (348-kDa) and ubiquitously expressed protein htt. Normal individuals have between 6 and 35 CAG triplets, while expansions longer than 40 repeats lead to HD. The onset and severity of the disease depend on the length of the polyQ tract: the longer the polyglutamine stretch (polyQ) is, the earlier the disease begins and the more severe the symptoms are. One of the main histopathological hallmarks of HD is the presence of intraneuronal proteinaceous inclusion bodies, whose prominent and invariant feature is the presence of ubiquitin (Ub); therefore, they can be detected with anti-ubiquitin and anti-proteasome antibodies. This, together with the observation that mutations in components of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) give rise to some neurodegenerative diseases, suggests that UPS impairment may be causative of HD. Even though the link between disrupted Ub homeostasis and protein aggregation to HD is undisputed, the functional significance of these correlations and their mechanistic implications remains unresolved. Moreover, there is no consistent evidence documenting an accompanying decrease in levels of free Ub or disruption of Ub pool dynamics in neurodegenerative disease or models thus suggesting that the Ub-conjugate accumulation may be benign and just underlie lesion in 26S function. In this chapter we will elaborate on the different studies that have been performed using different experimental approaches, in order to shed light to this matter.
Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 09/2014; 7:77.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) is a serine/threonine kinase with constitutive activity involved in cellular architecture, gene expression, cell proliferation, fate decision and apoptosis, among others. GSK-3 expression is particularly high in brain where it may be involved in neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder and major depression. A link with schizophrenia is suggested by the antipsychotic drug-induced GSK-3 regulation and by the involvement of the Akt/GSK-3 pathway in dopaminergic neurotransmission. Taking advantage of the previous development of dominant negative GSK-3 transgenic mice (Tg) showing a selective reduction of GSK-3 activity in forebrain neurons but not in dopaminergic neurons, we explored the relationship between GSK-3 and dopaminergic neurotransmission in vivo. In microdialysis experiments, local quinpirole (DA D2-R agonist) in dorsal striatum reduced dopamine (DA) release significantly less in Tg mice than in wild-type (WT) mice. However, local SKF-81297 (selective DA D1-R agonist) in dorsal striatum reduced DA release equally in both control and Tg mice indicating a comparable function of DA D1-R in the direct striato-nigral pathway. Likewise, systemic quinpirole administration –acting preferentially on presynaptic DA D2- autoreceptors to modulate DA release- reduced striatal DA release similarly in both control and Tg mice. Quinpirole reduced locomotor activity and induced c-fos expression in globus pallidus (both striatal DA D2-R-mediated effects) significantly more in WT than in Tg mice. Taking together, the present results show that dominant negative GSK-3 transgenic mice show reduced DA D2-R-mediated function in striatum and further support a link between dopaminergic neurotransmission and GSK-3 activity.
European Neuropsychopharmacology 09/2014; · 5.40 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Fas receptor (FasR)/Fas ligand (FasL) system plays a significant role in the process of neuronal loss in neurological disorders. Thus, in the present study, we used a real-time PCR array focused apoptosis (Mouse Apoptosis RT(2) PCR Array) to study the role of the Fas pathway in the apoptotic process that occurs in a kainic acid (KA) mice experimental model. In fact, significant changes in the transcriptional activity of a total of 23 genes were found in the hippocampus of wild-type C57BL/6 mice after 12 h of KA treatment compared to untreated mice. Among the up-regulated genes, we found key factors involved in the extrinsic apoptotic pathway, such as tnf, fas and fasL, and also in caspase genes (caspase -4, caspase-8 and caspase-3). To discern the importance of the FasR/FasL pathway, mice lacking the functional Fas death receptor (lpr) were also treated with KA. After 24 h of neurotoxin treatment, lpr mice exhibited a reduced number of apoptotic positive cells, determined by the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) method in different regions of the hippocampus, when compared to wild-type mice. In addition, treatment of lpr mice with KA did not produce significant changes in the transcriptional activity of genes related to apoptosis in the hippocampus, either in the fas and fas ligand genes or in caspase-4 and caspase-8 and the executioner caspase-3 genes, as occurred in wild-type C57BL/6 mice. Thus, these data provide direct evidence that Fas signalling plays a key role in the induction of apoptosis in the hippocampus following KA treatment, making the inhibition of the death receptor pathway a potentially suitable target for excitotoxicity neuroprotection in neurological conditions such as epilepsy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Disrupted in schizophrenia-1 (DISC1) gene is associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders as it is disrupted by a balanced translocation involving chromosomes 1 and 11 in a large Scottish pedigree with high prevalence of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. Since its identification, several mouse models with DISC1 genetic modifications have been generated using different approaches. Interestingly, a natural deletion of 25bp in the 129 mouse strain alters the DISC1 gene reading frame leading to a premature stop codon very close to the gene breakpoint in the mutant allele of the Scottish family. In the present study we confirmed that the 129DISC1(Del) mutation results in reduced level of full length DISC1 in hippocampus of heterozygous mice and we have characterized the behavioral consequences of heterozygous 129DISC1(Del) mutation in a mixed B6129 genetic background. We found alterations in spontaneous locomotor activity (hyperactivity in males and hypoactivity in females), deficits in pre-pulse inhibition (PPI) and also increased despair behavior in heterozygous 129DISC1(Del) mice, thus reproducing typical behaviors associated to psychiatric disorders. Since this mouse strain is widely and commercially available, we propose it as an amenable tool to study DISC1-related biochemical alterations and psychiatric behaviors.
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 07/2014; 8:253. · 4.16 Impact Factor
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An imbalance of tau isoforms containing either three or four microtubule-binding repeats causes frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17) in families with intronic mutations in the MAPT gene. Here we report equivalent imbalances at the mRNA and protein levels and increased total tau levels in the brains of subjects with Huntington's disease (HD) together with rod-like tau deposits along neuronal nuclei. These tau nuclear rods show an ordered filamentous ultrastructure and can be found filling the neuronal nuclear indentations previously reported in HD brains. Finally, alterations in serine/arginine-rich splicing factor-6 coincide with tau missplicing, and a role of tau in HD pathogenesis is evidenced by the attenuation of motor abnormalities of mutant HTT transgenic mice in tau knockout backgrounds.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A key transducer in energy conservation and signaling cell death is the mitochondrial H(+)-ATP synthase. The expression of the ATPase inhibitory factor 1 (IF1) is a strategy used by cancer cells to inhibit the activity of the H(+)-ATP synthase to generate a ROS signal that switches on cellular programs of survival. We have generated a mouse model expressing a mutant of human IF1 in brain neurons to assess the role of the H(+)-ATP synthase in cell death in vivo. The expression of hIF1 inhibits the activity of oxidative phosphorylation and mediates the shift of neurons to an enhanced aerobic glycolysis. Metabolic reprogramming induces brain preconditioning affording protection against quinolinic acid-induced excitotoxicity. Mechanistically, preconditioning involves the activation of the Akt/p70S6K and PARP repair pathways and Bcl-xL protection from cell death. Overall, our findings provide the first in vivo evidence highlighting the H(+)-ATP synthase as a target to prevent neuronal cell death.
The EMBO Journal 02/2014; 33(7). · 10.75 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lewy bodies and neurites are the pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease. These structures are composed of fibrillized and ubiquitinated alpha-synuclein suggesting that impaired protein clearance is an important event in aggregate formation. The A30P mutation is known for its fast oligomerization, but slow fibrillization rate. Despite its toxicity to neurons, mechanisms involved in either clearance or conversion of A30P alpha-synuclein from its soluble state into insoluble fibrils and their effects in vivo are poorly understood. Synphilin-1 is present in Lewy bodies, interacting with alpha-synuclein in vivo and in vitro and promotes its sequestration into aggresomes, which are thought to act as cytoprotective agents facilitating protein degradation. We therefore crossed animals overexpressing A30P alpha-synuclein with synphilin-1 transgenic mice to analyze its impact on aggregation, protein clearance and phenotype progression. We observed that co-expression of synphilin-1 mildly delayed the motor phenotype caused by A30P alpha-synuclein. Additionally, the presence of N- and C-terminal truncated alpha-synuclein species and fibrils were strongly reduced in double-transgenic mice when compared to single-transgenic A30P mice. Insolubility of mutant A30P and formation of aggresomes was still detectable in aged double-transgenic mice, paralleled by an increase of ubiquitinated proteins and high autophagic activity. Hence, this study supports the notion that co-expression of synphilin-1 promotes formation of autophagic-susceptible aggresomes and consecutively the degradation of human A30P alpha-synuclein.Notably, although synphilin-1 overexpression significantly reduced formation of fibrils and astrogliosis in aged animals, a similar phenotype is present in single- and double-transgenic mice suggesting additional neurotoxic processes in disease progression.
Human Molecular Genetics 02/2014; 23(3):767-781. · 6.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) inhibitors have been postulated as useful therapeutic tools for the treatment of chronic neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. Nevertheless the clinical use of these inhibitors has been limited by their common side effects. Lithium, a non-selective GSK-3 inhibitor has been classically administered to treat bipolar patients but its prescription is decreasing due to its frequent side effects such as hand tremor. This toxicity seems to be higher in the elderly and a clinical trial with lithium for Alzheimer's disease was stopped due to high rate of discontinuation. We have previously described a mechanism for the adverse effects of chronic lithium that involves neuronal apoptosis via Fas signaling. As lithium inhibits many other enzymatic activities such as inositol monophosphatase and histone deacetylase, here we aim to genetically test whether GSK-3 inhibition induces those adverse effects through Fas receptor. For this purpose we took advantage of a transgenic mouse line with decreased GSK-3 activity (Tet/DN-GSK-3 mice) that shows increased rate of neuronal apoptosis as well as motor deficits and brought it to a Fas deficient background (lpr mice). We found that apoptosis induced by GSK-3 inhibition was absent in Fas deficient background. Interestingly, motor deficits were also absent in Fas deficient Tet/DN-GSK-3 mice. These results demonstrate that Fas signaling contributes to the neurological toxicity of GSK-3 inhibition and suggest that a combination of GSK-3 inhibitors with blockers of Fas signaling could help to improve the application of GSK-3 inhibitors to clinics.
PLoS ONE 08/2013; 8(8):e70952. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activating transcription factor 5 (ATF5) is a basic-leucine-zipper transcription factor of the ATF/CREB family. The Atf5 gene generates two transcripts, Atf5α and Atf5β, of which Atf5α is known to be selectively translated upon endoplasmic reticulum stress response in non-neuronal cells. ATF5 is highly expressed in the developing brain where it modulates proliferation of neural progenitor cells. These cells show a high level of ATF5 that has to decrease to allow them to differentiate into mature neurons or glial cells. This has led to the extended notion that differentiated neural cells do not express ATF5 unless they undergo tumourigenic transformation. However, no systematic analysis of the distribution of ATF5 in adult brain or of its potential role in neuronal endoplasmic reticulum stress response has been reported. By immunostaining here we confirm highest ATF5 levels in neuroprogenitor cells of the embryonic and adult subventricular zone but also found ATF5 in a large variety of neurons in adult mouse brain. By combining Atf5 in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for the neuronal marker NeuN we further confirmed Atf5 messenger RNA in adult mouse neurons. Quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction demonstrated that Atf5α is the most abundant transcript in adult mouse encephalon and injection of the endoplasmic reticulum stress inducer tunicamycin into adult mouse brain increased neuronal ATF5 levels. Accordingly, ATF5 levels increased in hippocampal neurons of a mouse model of status epilepticus triggered by intra-amygdala injection of kainic acid, which leads to abnormal hippocampal neuronal activity and endoplasmic reticulum stress. Interestingly, ATF5 upregulation occurred mainly in hippocampal neuronal fields that do not undergo apoptosis in this status epilepticus model such as CA1 and dentate gyrus, thus suggesting a neuroprotective role. This was confirmed in a primary neuronal culture model in which ATF5 overexpression resulted in decreased endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced apoptosis and the opposite result was achieved by Atf5 RNA interference. Furthermore, in vivo administration of the eIF2α phosphatase inhibitor salubrinal resulted in increased ATF5 hippocampal levels and attenuated status epilepticus-induced neuronal death in the vulnerable CA3 subfield. In good agreement with the neuroprotective effect of increased ATF5, we found that apoptosis-resistant epileptogenic foci from patients with temporal lobe epilepsy also showed increased levels of ATF5. Thus, our results demonstrate that adult neurons express ATF5 and that they increase its levels upon endoplasmic reticulum stress as a pro-survival mechanism, thus opening a new field for neuroprotective strategies focused on ATF5 modulation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hippocampal sclerosis is a frequent pathological finding in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and can be caused by prolonged single or repeated brief seizures. Both DNA damage and endoplasmic reticulum stress have been implicated as underlying molecular mechanisms in seizure-induced brain injury. The CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP) is a transcriptional regulator induced downstream of DNA damage and endoplasmic reticulum stress, which can promote or inhibit apoptosis according to context. Recent work has proposed inhibition of CHOP as a suitable neuroprotective strategy. Here, we show that transcript and protein levels of CHOP increase in surviving subfields of the hippocampus after prolonged seizures (status epilepticus) in mouse models. CHOP was also elevated in the hippocampus from epileptic mice and patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsy. The hippocampus of CHOP-deficient mice was much more vulnerable to damage in mouse models of status epilepticus. Moreover, compared with wild-type animals, CHOP-deficient mice subject to status epilepticus developed more spontaneous seizures, displayed protracted hippocampal neurodegeneration and a deficit in a hippocampus-dependent object-place recognition task. The absence of CHOP was associated with a supra-maximal induction of p53 after status epilepticus, and inhibition of p53 abolished the cell death-promoting consequences of CHOP deficiency. The protective effect of CHOP could be partly explained by activating transcription of murine double minute 2 that targets p53 for degradation. These data demonstrate that CHOP is required for neuronal survival after seizures and caution against inhibition of CHOP as a neuroprotective strategy where excitotoxicity is an underlying pathomechanism.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clathrin-mediated endocytosis plays an important role in the maintenance of neuronal integrity in the synaptic terminals. Here we studied the effect of anomalous polyglutamine expansion in huntingtin on the interaction of coat proteins with membranes, in areas of mouse brain or in cultured striatal cells. We observed that this anomaly induces a redistribution of AP-2, but not other coat proteins, from the membrane to the cytosol in the striatum, and in the cultured striatal cells. It was also noted that huntingtin associates with AP-2, and that this association decreases due to the mutation in huntingtin. This decreased receptor-mediated endocytosis, measured by the internalization of transferrin in the mutated cells. It was also confirmed that huntingtin mutation made the cells more vulnerable to the action of quinolinic acid, with an increasing degradation of the AP-2 alpha subunits. On the basis of these results, we conclude that abnormal polyglutamine expansion in huntingtin affects clathrin-mediated endocytosis, and may be one of the pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegeneration.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The lack or excess of the protein tau can be deleterious for neurons. The absence of tau can result in retarded neurogenesis and neuronal differentiation, although adult mice deficient in tau are viable, probably because of the compensation of the loss of tau by other MAPs (microtubule-associated proteins). On the contrary, the overexpression of tau can be toxic for the cell. One way to reduce intracellular tau levels can be achieved by its secretion through microvesicles to the extracellular space. Furthermore, tau can be found in the extracellular space because of the neuronal cell death occurring in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. The presence of toxic extracellular tau could be the mechanism for the spreading of tau pathology in these neurodegenerative disorders.
Biochemical Society Transactions 08/2012; 40(4):653-5. · 2.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a key player in learning and memory processes. However, little is known about brain area-specific functions of this neurotrophin. Here we investigated whether BDNF could differently affect motor neocortical and hippocampal-related cognitive and plastic morphologic changes in young (12-week-old) and middle-aged (30-week-old) BDNF heterozygous (BDNF(+/-)) and wild type (wt) mice. We found that at 30weeks of age, BDNF(+/-) mice showed impaired performance in accelerating rotarod and grasping tests while preserved spatial learning in a T-maze and recognition memory in an object recognition task compared with wt mice suggesting a specific neocortical dysfunction. Accordingly, a significant reduction of synaptic markers (PSD-95 and GluR1) and corresponding puncta was observed in motor neocortex but not in hippocampus of BDNF(+/-) mice. Interestingly, 30-week-old BDNF(+/-) mice displayed increased TrkB levels in the hippocampus but not in the motor neocortex, which suggests specific hippocampal compensatory mechanisms as a consequence of BDNF decrease. In conclusion, our data indicates that BDNF could differentially regulate the neuronal micro-structures and cognition in a region-specific and in an age-dependent manner.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) is a ubiquitously expressed serine/threonine kinase that plays a key role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). GSK3 phosphorylates tau in most serine and threonine residues hyperphosphorylated in paired helical filaments, and GSK3 activity contributes both to amyloid-β production and amyloid-β-mediated neuronal death. Thus, mice generated in our laboratory with conditional overexpression of GSK3 in forebrain neurons (Tet/GSK3β mice) recapitulate aspects of AD neuropathology such as tau hyperphosphorylation, apoptotic neuronal death, and reactive astrocytosis, as well as spatial learning deficit. In this review, we describe recent contributions of our group showing that transgene shutdown in that animal model leads to normal GSK3 activity, normal phospho-tau levels, diminished neuronal death, and suppression of the cognitive deficit, thus further supporting the potential of GSK3 inhibitors for AD therapeutics. In addition, we have combined transgenic mice overexpressing the enzyme GSK3β with transgenic mice expressing tau with a triple FTDP-17 mutation that develop prefibrillar tau-aggregates. Our data suggest that progression of the tauopathy can be prevented by administration of lithium when the first signs of neuropathology appear. Further, it is possible to partially reverse tau pathology in advanced stages of the disease, although the presence of already assembled neurofibrillary tangle-like structures cannot be reversed.
Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 06/2012; · 3.61 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington and Parkinson diseases (HD and PD) are two major neurodegenerative disorders pathologically characterized by the accumulation of the aggregate-prone proteins mutant huntingtin (in HD) and α-synuclein (in PD). Mutant huntingtin is an autophagy substrate and autophagy modulators affect HD pathology both in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, α-synuclein levels are able to modulate autophagy: α-synuclein overexpression inhibits autophagy, whereas downregulation promotes autophagy. Here, we review our recent studies showing that α-synuclein levels modulate mutant huntingtin toxicity in mouse models. This phenotypic modification is accompanied by the in vivo modulation of autophagosome numbers in mouse brains from both control and HD mice expressing different levels of α-synuclein.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increased GSK-3 activity is believed to contribute to the etiology of chronic disorders like Alzheimer's disease (AD), schizophrenia, diabetes, and some types of cancer, thus supporting therapeutic potential of GSK-3 inhibitors. Numerous mouse models with modified GSK-3 have been generated in order to study the physiology of GSK-3, its implication in diverse pathologies and the potential effect of GSK-3 inhibitors. In this review we have focused on the relevance of these mouse models for the study of the role of GSK-3 in apoptosis. GSK-3 is involved in two apoptotic pathways, intrinsic and extrinsic pathways, and plays opposite roles depending on the apoptotic signaling process that is activated. It promotes cell death when acting through intrinsic pathway and plays an anti-apoptotic role if the extrinsic pathway is occurring. It is important to dissect this duality since, among the diseases in which GSK-3 is involved, excessive cell death is crucial in some illnesses like neurodegenerative diseases, while a deficient apoptosis is occurring in others such as cancer or autoimmune diseases. The clinical application of a classical GSK-3 inhibitor, lithium, is limited by its toxic consequences, including motor side effects. Recently, the mechanism leading to activation of apoptosis following chronic lithium administration has been described. Understanding this mechanism could help to minimize side effects and to improve application of GSK-3 inhibitors to the treatment of AD and to extend the application to other diseases.
Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 11/2011; 4:45.
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is the most common of nine inherited neurological disorders caused by expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) sequences which confer propensity to self-aggregate and toxicity to their corresponding mutant proteins. It has been postulated that polyQ expression compromises the folding capacity of the cell which might affect other misfolding-prone proteins. α-Synuclein (α-syn) is a small neural-specific protein with propensity to self-aggregate that forms Parkinson's disease (PD) Lewy bodies. Point mutations in α-syn that favor self-aggregation or α-syn gene duplications lead to familial PD, thus indicating that increased α-syn aggregation or levels are sufficient to induce neurodegeneration. Since polyQ inclusions in HD and other polyQ disorders are immunopositive for α-syn, we speculated that α-syn might be recruited as an additional mediator of polyQ toxicity. Here, we confirm in HD postmortem brains and in the R6/1 mouse model of HD the accumulation of α-syn in polyQ inclusions. By isolating the characteristic filaments formed by aggregation-prone proteins, we found that N-terminal mutant huntingtin (N-mutHtt) and α-syn form independent filamentous microaggregates in R6/1 mouse brain as well as in the inducible HD94 mouse model and that N-mutHtt expression increases the load of α-syn filaments. Accordingly, α-syn knockout results in a diminished number of N-mutHtt inclusions in transfected neurons and also in vivo in the brain of HD mice. Finally, α-syn knockout attenuates body weight loss and early motor phenotype of HD mice. This study therefore demonstrates that α-syn is a modifier of polyQ toxicity in vivo and raises the possibility that potential PD-related therapies aimed to counteract α-syn toxicity might help to slow HD.
Human Molecular Genetics 11/2011; 21(3):495-510. · 6.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: β-Amyloid (Aβ) peptide production from amyloid precursor protein (APP) is essential in the formation of the β-amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. However, the extracellular signals that maintain the balance between nonpathogenic and pathologic forms of APP processing, mediated by α-secretase and β-secretase respectively, remain poorly understood. In the present work, we describe regulation of the processing of APP via the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) receptor P2X7R. In 2 different cellular lines, the inhibition of either native or overexpressed P2X7R increased α-secretase activity through inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3). In vivo inhibition of the P2X7R in J20 mice, transgenic for mutant human APP, induced a significant decrease in the number of hippocampal amyloid plaques. This reduction correlated with a decrease in glycogen synthase kinase 3 activity in J20 mice, increasing the proteolytic processing of APP through an increase in α-secretase activity. The in vivo findings presented here demonstrate for the first time the therapeutic potential of P2X7R antagonism in the treatment of familiar Alzheimer's disease (FAD).
Neurobiology of aging 10/2011; 33(8):1816-28. · 5.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Overexpression of GSK3β in transgenic mice induces learning deficits and some features associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD), including dentate gyrus (DG) atrophy. Here, we assessed whether these mice also recapitulate DG atrophy as well as impaired neurogenesis reported in AD. Ultrastructural analysis revealed that there were fewer and more disorganized neurogenic niches in these animals, coupled with an increase in the proportion of immature neurons. Indeed, the maturation of granule cells is delayed as witnessed by the alterations to the length and patterning of their dendritic trees and to the mossy fiber terminals. Together with an increase in neuronal death, these phenomena lead to a marked decrease in the number and disorganization of granule cells of the DG. Our results suggest that GSK3β overexpression perturbs proliferation and maturation, resulting in the loss of immature neurons. In turn, the activation of microglia is stimulated in conjunction with a decrease in the birth of new functional neurons, leading to the deterioration of this structure. These data support the idea that by inducing degeneration of the DG, GSK3β could be involved in the pathogenesis of AD.