[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: With aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD), there is an increased sensitivity to stress along with declines in the memory-associated neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor in AD. We have replicated this aging phenotype in cultured neurons from aged mice despite being grown in the same environmental conditions as young neurons. This led us to hypothesize that age-related differences in epigenetic acetylation and methylation of histones are associated with age-related gene regulation. We cultured hippocampal/cortical neurons from the 3xTg-AD mouse model and from non-transgenic mice to quantify single cell acetylation and methylation levels across the life span. In non-transgenic neurons, H3 acetylation was unchanged with age, while H4 acetylation decreased with age of the donor. Compared to non-transgenic neurons, 3xTg-AD neurons had higher levels of H3 and H4 acetylation beginning at 4 months of age. In contrast to non-transgenic neurons, 3xTg-AD neurons increased acetylation with age; 3xTg-AD neurons also responded differently to inhibition of histone deacetylases at an early age. Importantly, treatment of non-transgenic neurons with the AD peptide Aβ also elevated levels of acetylation. We also examined the repressive function of histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methylation. H3K9 methylation increased with age in non-transgenic neurons, which was amplified further in 3xTg-AD neurons. The dominant effect of higher H3K9 methylation was supported by lower Bdnf gene expression in non-transgenic and 3xTg-AD mice. These data show that the epigenetic states of non-transgenic and 3xTg-AD brain neurons are profoundly different and reversible, beginning at 4 months of age when the first memory deficits are reported.
Age 01/2012; 35(3). DOI:10.1007/s11357-011-9375-5 · 3.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The amyloid Abeta-peptide (Abeta) is suspected to play a critical role in the cascade leading to AD as the pathogen that causes neuronal and synaptic dysfunction and, eventually, cell death. Therefore, it has been the subject of a huge number of clinical and basic research studies on this disease. Abeta is typically found aggregated in extracellular amyloid plaques that occur in specific brain regions enriched in nAChRs in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Down syndrome (DS) brains. Advances in the genetics of its familiar and sporadic forms, together with those in gene transfer technology, have provided valuable animal models that complement the traditional cholinergic approaches, although modeling the neuronal and behavioral deficits of AD in these models has been challenging. More recently, emerging evidence indicates that intraneuronal accumulation of Abeta may also contribute to the cascade of neurodegenerative events and strongly suggest that it is an early, pathological biomarker for the onset of AD and associated cognitive and other behavioral deficits. The present review covers these studies in humans, in in vitro and in transgenic models, also providing more evidence that adult 3xTg-AD mice harboring PS1M146V, APPSwe, tauP301L transgenes, and mimicking many critical hallmarks of AD, show cognitive deficits and other behavioral alterations at ages when overt neuropathology is not yet observed, but when intraneuronal Abeta, synaptic and cholinergic deficits can already be described.