[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson's disease have in common the presence of protein aggregates in specific brain areas where significant neuronal loss is detected. In these pathologies, several evidences support a close correlation between neurodegeneration and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, a condition that arises from ER lumen overload with misfolded proteins. Under these conditions, ER stress sensors initiate the unfolded protein response to restore normal ER function. If stress is too prolonged, or adaptive responses fail, apoptotic cell death ensues. Therefore, it was recently suggested that the manipulation of the ER unfolded protein response could be an effective strategy to avoid neuronal loss in neurodegenerative disorders. We will review the mechanisms underlying ER stress-associated neurodegeneration and discuss the possibility of ER as a therapeutic target.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is pathologically characterized by the presence of misfolded proteins such as amyloid beta (Aβ) in senile plaques, and hyperphosphorylated tau and truncated tau in neurofibrillary tangles (NFT). The BRI2 protein inhibits Aβ aggregation via its BRICHOS domain and regulates critical proteins involved in initiating the amyloid cascade, which has been hypothesized to be central in AD pathogenesis. We recently detected the deposition of BRI2 ectodomain associated with Aβ plaques and concomitant changes in its processing enzymes in early stages of AD. Here, we aimed to investigate the effects of recombinant BRI2 ectodomain (rBRI276-266) on Aβ aggregation and on important molecular pathways involved in early stages of AD, including the unfolded protein response (UPR), phosphorylation and truncation of tau, as well as apoptosis. We found that rBRI276-266 delays Aβ fibril formation, although less efficiently than the BRI2 BRICHOS domain (BRI2 residues 113-231). In human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, rBRI276-266 slightly decreased cell viability and increased up to two-fold the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and the subsequent activity of caspases 3 and 9, indicating activation of apoptosis. rBRI276-266 upregulated the chaperone BiP but did not modify the mRNA expression of other UPR markers (CHOP and Xbp-1). Strikingly, rBRI276-266 induced the activation of GSK3β but not the phosphorylation of tau. However, exposure to rBRI276-266 significantly induced the truncation of tau, indicating that BRI2 ectodomain can contribute to NFT formation. Since BRI2 can also regulate the metabolism of Aβ, the current data suggests that BRI2 ectodomain is a potential nexus between Aβ, tau pathology and neurodegeneration.
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS 10/2014; 72(8). DOI:10.1007/s00018-014-1769-y · 5.86 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the principal organelle responsible for the proper folding/processing of nascent proteins and perturbed ER function leads to a state known as ER stress. Mammalian cells try to overcome ER stress through a set of protein signalling pathways and transcription factors termed the unfolded protein response (UPR). However, under unresolvable ER stress conditions, the UPR is hyperactivated inducing cell dysfunction and death. The accumulation of misfolded proteins in the brain of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients suggests that alterations in ER homeostasis might be implicated in the neurodegenerative events that characterize this disorder. This review discusses the involvement of ER stress in the pathogenesis of AD, focusing the processing and trafficking of the AD-related amyloid precursor protein (APP) during disease development. The potential role of ER as a therapeutic target in AD will also be debated.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the principal organelle responsible for the proper folding/processing of nascent proteins and perturbed ER function leads to a state known as ER stress. Mammalian cells try to overcome ER stress through a set of protein signalling pathways and transcription factors termed the unfolded protein response (UPR). However, under unresolvable ER stress conditions, the UPR is hyperactivated inducing cell dysfunction and death. The accumulation of misfolded proteins in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients suggests that alterations in ER homeostasis might be implicated in the neurodegenerative events that characterize this disorder. This review discusses the involvement of ER stress in the pathogenesis of AD, focusing the processing and trafficking of the AD-related amyloid precursor protein (APP) during disease development. The potential role of ER as a therapeutic target in AD will also be debated.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It was recently established that the stomach-derived ghrelin and the adipokine leptin promote learning and memory through actions within the hippocampus. Changes in the peripheral or brain levels of these peptides were described in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and were shown to correlate with the severity of cognitive decline. Furthermore, in vivo and in vitro studies demonstrated that leptin or ghrelin can ameliorate amyloid and tau pathologies as well as cognitive deficits. However, the exact role of these peptides in AD is far from being elucidated. To fill this gap, our working hypothesis was that leptin and ghrelin can exert a neuroprotective role in AD suppressing hippocampal dysfunction triggered by synapto- and neurotoxic amyloid-β oligomers (AβO). Using primary cultured hippocampal neurons, we demonstrated that both peptides reduce AβO-induced production of superoxide and mitochondrial membrane depolarization, improving cell survival, and inhibit cell death through a receptor-dependent mechanism. Furthermore, it was shown that in AβO-treated neurons both leptin and ghrelin prevent glycogen synthase kinase 3β activation. Therefore, the evidence gathered in this study revealed that leptin and ghrelin can act as neuroprotective agents able to rescue hippocampal neurons from AβO toxicity, thus highlighting their potential therapeutic role in AD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: According to World Health Organization estimates, type 2 diabetes (T2D) is an epidemic (particularly in under development countries) and a socio-economic challenge. This is even more relevant since increasing evidence points T2D as a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD), supporting the hypothesis that AD is a "type 3 diabetes" or "brain insulin resistant state". Despite the limited knowledge on the molecular mechanisms and the etiological complexity of both pathologies, evidence suggests that neurodegeneration/death underlying cognitive dysfunction (and ultimately dementia) upon long-term T2D may arise from a complex interplay between T2D and brain aging. Additionally, decreased brain insulin levels/signaling and glucose metabolism in both pathologies further suggests that an effective treatment strategy for one disorder may be also beneficial in the other. In this regard, one such promising strategy is a novel successful anti-T2D class of drugs, the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) mimetics (e.g. exendin-4 or liraglutide), whose potential neuroprotective effects have been increasingly shown in the last years. In fact, several studies showed that, besides improving peripheral (and probably brain) insulin signaling, GLP-1 analogues minimize cell loss and possibly rescue cognitive decline in models of AD, Parkinson's (PD) or Huntington's disease. Interestingly, exendin-4 is undergoing clinical trials to test its potential as an anti-PD therapy. Herewith, we aim to integrate the available data on the metabolic and neuroprotective effects of GLP-1 mimetics in the central nervous system (CNS) with the complex crosstalk between T2D-AD, as well as their potential therapeutic value against T2D-associated cognitive dysfunction.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is considered a nosological entity or a translational state between normal aging and sporadic Alzheimer´s disease (AD). From brain tissue to peripheral blood samples, it is evident that the early markers of metabolic dysfunction observed in AD have also been found in MCI subjects. These observations obtained from MCI and AD subjects leave open the possibility that mitochondrial dysfunction-induced oxidative damage happening a priori of symptom onset, may trigger other pathological hallmarks, namely Aβ oligomerization. In this study, we used a citoplasmic hybrid (cybrid) model created by the repopulation of human teratocarcinoma (NT2) cells depleted of endogenous mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with platelets from age-matched controls, MCI and AD subjects. We found mitochondrial deficits in MCI and AD cybrids as compared with controls, such as a decrease in cytochrome c oxidase (COX) activity, a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and in mitochondrial cytochrome c content. Consequently, we analyzed parameters of oxidative damage and found that AD and MCI cybrids exhibit an increase in lipid peroxides, higher production of superoxide radicals, and higher content in protein carbonyls. Since our data clearly show alterations in mitochondrial-mediated oxidative damage in MCI cybrids we propose that mitochondrial dysfunction is an early event in idiopathic AD. Moreover, we found that mitochondrial Aβ oligomeric content increases in AD, which may exacerbate initial mitochondrial damage. Altogether, our data strongly supports a key role for mitochondria/mtDNA in aged-driven AD pathology.
Current Alzheimer research 06/2012; 10(2). DOI:10.2174/1567205011310020008 · 3.80 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly, affecting several million of people worldwide. Pathological changes in the AD brain include the presence of amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, loss of neurons and synapses, and oxidative damage. These changes strongly associate with mitochondrial dysfunction and stress of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Mitochondrial dysfunction is intimately linked to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitochondrial-driven apoptosis, which appear to be aggravated in the brain of AD patients. Concomitantly, mitochondria are closely associated with ER, and the deleterious crosstalk between both organelles has been shown to be involved in neuronal degeneration in AD. Stimuli that enhance expression of normal and/or folding-defective proteins activate an adaptive unfolded protein response (UPR) that, if unresolved, can cause apoptotic cell death. ER stress also induces the generation of ROS that, together with mitochondrial ROS and decreased activity of several antioxidant defenses, promotes chronic oxidative stress. In this paper we discuss the critical role of mitochondrial and ER dysfunction in oxidative injury in AD cellular and animal models, as well as in biological fluids from AD patients. Progress in developing peripheral and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers related to oxidative stress will also be summarized.
International Journal of Cell Biology 06/2012; 2012:735206. DOI:10.1155/2012/735206
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The involvement of apoptosis in the cytotoxicity mediated by nucleoside analogues, namely azaguanine, and its implication in resistance are not well understood. Using human T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell lines, sensitive (CEM cells) and resistant to azaguanine (CM3 cells), we observe a decrease in the expression of proapoptotic proteins in CM3 cells, which may be related to the resistance to cell death induced by azaguanine. On the other hand, CM3 cells lack cross resistance with other anticarcinogenic drugs, suggesting that azaguanine may be used alternatively in the presence of chemoresistance. A better knowledge of the apoptotic pathways involved in leukemic cell death resistance may contribute to the development of therapeutic strategies, aimed to prevent chemotherapy resistance.
Cancer Investigation 02/2012; 30(5):331-42. DOI:10.3109/07357907.2012.659925 · 2.06 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that leads to debilitating cognitive deficits. Recent evidence demonstrates that glutamate receptors are dysregulated by amyloid beta peptide (Aβ) oligomers, resulting in disruption of glutamatergic synaptic transmission which parallels early cognitive deficits. Although it is well accepted that neuronal death in AD is related to disturbed intracellular Ca(2+) (Ca(2+)(i)) homeostasis, little is known about the contribution of NMDARs containing GluN2A or GluN2B subunits on Aβ-induced Ca(2+)(i) rise and neuronal dysfunction. Thus, the main goal of this work was to evaluate the role of NMDAR subunits in dysregulation of Ca(2+)(i) homeostasis induced by Aβ 1-42 preparation containing both oligomers (in higher percentage) and monomers in rat cerebral cortical neurons. The involvement of NMDARs was evaluated by pharmacological inhibition with MK-801 or the selective GluN2A and GLUN2B subunit antagonists NVP-AAM077 and ifenprodil, respectively. We show that Aβ, like NMDA, increase Ca(2+)(i) levels mainly through activation of NMDARs containing GluN2B subunits. Conversely, GluN2A-NMDARs antagonism potentiates Ca(2+)(i) rise induced by a high concentration of Aβ (1μM), suggesting that GluN2A and GluN2B subunits have opposite roles in regulating Ca(2+)(i) homeostasis. Moreover, Aβ modulate NMDA-induced responses and vice versa. Indeed, pre-exposure to Aβ (1μM) decrease NMDA-evoked Ca(2+)(I) rise and pre-exposure to NMDA decrease Aβ response. Interestingly, simultaneous addition of Aβ and NMDA potentiate Ca(2+)(I) levels, this effect being regulated by GluN2A and GluN2B subunits in opposite manners. This study contributes to the understanding of the molecular basis of early AD pathogenesis, by exploring the role of GluN2A and GluN2B subunits in the mechanism of Aβ toxicity in AD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial dysfunction has been widely implicated in the etiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Evidence shows a mitochondrial-mediated impairment of autophagy that potentiates amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition. Accordingly, recent data obtained from AD models, in which mitochondrial alterations are a prominent feature, demonstrated abnormalities in microtubule network, involving tubulin and tau post-translational modifications. In this review we will discuss mitochondrial-regulated processes where mitochondrial malfunction is likely to start a sequence of events leading to sirtuin-2 activation, microtubule network breakdown, and impairment of the autophagic pathway. Because sirtuin-2 activity depends on cellular NAD+ availability, mitochondrial regulation of NAD+ levels may contribute to an increase in sirtuin-mediated tubulin deacetylation. A vicious cycle become installed which potentiates tau hyperphosphorylation, together with Aβ overproduction and deposition. Overall, targeting microtubule network constitutes a promising strategy for pharmacological therapy in AD.
Current Alzheimer research 08/2011; 8(5):563-72. DOI:10.2174/156720511796391872 · 3.80 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cocaine and heroin are co-abused by humans, in a combination known as speedball. Besides pharmacodynamic interactions between the two drugs, a chemical interaction was described to occur in cocaine:heroin solutions, involving the formation of a cocaine:morphine adduct, which may have speciﬁc biological effects. We have described that cocaine and heroin induce neurotoxicity in rat cortical neurons.We compared the neurotoxic effects of the drugs per se with the effects of their sequential and simultaneous combinations.
Cortical neurons exposed to the mixture presented a higher increase in intracellular calcium concentration, mitochondrial dysfunction and cell death by necrosis, in contrast with cells sequentially exposed to heroin and cocaine, which released cytochrome c to the cytosol and presented higher loss of metabolic viability. These results suggest that cocaine:morphine adducts affect neuronal mitochondrial function. We studied the direct effects of cocaine, morphine and their combination in isolated rat liver mitochondrial function. Cocaine and cocaine:morphine combination promoted the increase in proton leak, respiratory chain complex I inhibition and the decrease in mitochondrial potential. Our results indicate that molecular interactions between cocaine and opioids affect the toxicity of speedball.
This work was supported by FCT (POCI/FCF/58330/2004) and University of Coimbra (III/34/2008).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is the most prevalent polyglutamine expansion disorder. HD is caused by an expansion of CAG triplet in the huntingtin (HTT) gene, associated with striatal and cortical neuronal loss. Central and peripheral metabolic abnormalities and altered insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels have been described in HD. Thus, we hypothesized that restoration of IGF-1-mediated signaling pathways could rescue R6/2 mice from metabolic stress and behavioral changes induced by polyglutamine expansion. We analyzed the in vivo effect of continuous peripheral IGF-1 administration on diabetic parameters, body weight and motor behavior in the hemizygous R6/2 mouse model of HD. We used 9 week-old and age-matched wild-type mice, subjected to continuously infused recombinant IGF-I or vehicle, for 14 days. IGF-1 treatment prevented the age-related decrease in body weight in R6/2 mice. Although blood glucose levels were higher in R6/2 mice, they did not reach a diabetic state. Even though, IGF-1 ameliorated poor glycemic control in HD mice. This seemed to be associated with a decrease in blood insulin levels in R6/2 mice, which was increased following IGF-1 infusion. Similarly, blood IGF-1 levels decreased during aging in both wild-type and R6/2 mice, being significantly improved upon its continuous infusion. Although no significant differences were found in motor function in R6/2-treated mice, IGF-1 treatment highly improved paw clasping scores. In summary, these results suggest that IGF-1 has a protective role against HD-associated impaired glucose tolerance, by enhancing blood insulin levels.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While the etiology of Parkinson's disease remains largely elusive, there is accumulating evidence suggesting that mitochondrial dysfunction occurs prior to the onset of symptoms in Parkinson's disease. Mitochondria are remarkably primed to play a vital role in neuronal cell survival since they are key regulators of energy metabolism (as ATP producers), of intracellular calcium homeostasis, of NAD(+)/NADH ratio, and of endogenous reactive oxygen species production and programmed cell death. In this paper, we focus on mitochondrial dysfunction-mediated alpha-synuclein aggregation. We highlight some of the findings that provide proof of evidence for a mitochondrial metabolism control in Parkinson's disease, namely, mitochondrial regulation of microtubule-dependent cellular traffic and autophagic lysosomal pathway. The knowledge that microtubule alterations may lead to autophagic deficiency and may compromise the cellular degradation mechanisms that culminate in the progressive accumulation of aberrant protein aggregates shields new insights to the way we address Parkinson's disease. In line with this knowledge, an innovative window for new therapeutic strategies aimed to restore microtubule network may be unlocked.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial metabolism is a highly orchestrated phenomenon in which many enzyme systems cooperate in a variety of pathways to dictate cellular fate. As well as its vital role in cellular energy metabolism (ATP production), mitochondria are powerful organelles that regulate reactive oxygen species production, NAD+/NADH ratio and programmed cell death. In addition, mitochondrial abnormalities have been well recognized to contribute to degenerative diseases, like Parkinson's disease (PD). Particularly a deficiency in the mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I and cristae disruption have been consistently described in PD. Moreover, the products of PD-familial genes, including alpha-synuclein, Parkin, PINK1, DJ-1, LRRK2 and HTR2A, were shown to localize to the mitochondria under certain conditions. It seems that PD has a mitochondrial component so events that would modulate normal mitochondrial functions may compromise neuronal survival. However, it remains an open question whether alterations of these pathways lead to different aspects of PD or whether they converge at a point that is the common denominator of PD pathogenesis. In this review we will focus on mitochondrial metabolic control and its implications on sirtuins activation, microtubule dynamics and autophagic-lysosomal pathway. We will address mitochondrial metabolism modulation as a new promising therapeutic tool for PD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: When first described by Alois Alzheimer in 1907, AD was seen as a disorder that causes dementia and characterized by two defining neuropathological lesions, later associated with all forms of AD. While the etiology of AD remains largely unclear, there is accumulating evidence suggesting that mitochondrial dysfunction occurs prior to the onset of symptoms in AD. Mitochondria are exceptionally poised to play a crucial role in neuronal cell survival or death because they are regulators of both energy metabolism and apoptotic pathways. This review is mainly focused in the discussion of evidence suggesting a clear association between mitochondrial dysfunction, autophagy impairment and amyloid-beta accumulation in Alzheimer's disease pathophysiology. The knowledge that autophagic insufficiency may compromise the cellular degradation mechanisms that may culminate in the progressive accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria, aberrant protein aggregates buildup and lysossomal burden shield new insights to the way we address Alzheimer's disease. In line with this knowledge an innovative window for new therapeutic strategies aimed to activate or ameliorate macroautophagy may be opened.