Neurofibrillary tangles composed of aggregated, hyperphosphorylated tau in an abnormal conformation represent one of the major pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other tauopathies. However, recent data suggest that the pathogenic processes leading to cognitive impairment occur before the formation of classic tangles. In the earliest stages of tauopathy, tau detaches from microtubules and accumulates in the cytosol of the somatodendritic compartment of cells. Either as a cause or an effect, tau becomes hyperphosphorylated and aggregates into paired helical filaments that comprise the tangles. To assess whether an agent that modulates microtubule function can inhibit the pathogenic process and prevent cognitive deficits in a transgenic mouse model with AD-relevant tau pathology, we administered the neuronal tubulin-preferring agent, NAPVSIPQ (NAP). Three months of treatment with NAP at an early-to-moderate stage of tauopathy reduced the levels of hyperphosphorylated soluble and insoluble tau. A 6-month course of treatment improved cognitive function. Although nonspecific tubulin-interacting agents commonly used for cancer therapy are associated with adverse effects due to their antimitotic activity, no adverse effects were found after 6 months of exposure to NAP. Our results suggest that neuronal microtubule interacting agents such as NAP may be useful therapeutic agents for the treatment or prevention of tauopathies.Neurofibrillary tangles containing hyperphosphorylated tau represent one of the principal pathological hallmarks of AD. Clinical progression of AD is tightly related to tau pathology (Braak and Braak, 1995), and a recent transgenic mouse study suggests that the pathogenic processes leading to cognitive impairment occur before the formation of classic tangles (Roberson et al
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) induces physical, cognitive, and psychosocial deficits that affect millions of patients. TBI activates numerous cellular mechanisms and molecular cascades that produce detrimental outcomes, including neuronal death and loss of function. The mitochondrion is one of the major targets of TBI, as seen by increased mitochondrial activity in activated and proliferating microglia (due to high energy requirements and/or calcium overload) as well as increased reactive oxygen species, changes in mitochondrial permeability transition, release of cytochrome c, caspase activation, reduced ATP levels, and cell death in neurons. Translocator protein (TSPO) is an 18-kDa outer mitochondrial membrane protein that interacts with the mitochondria permeability transition pore and binds with high affinity to cholesterol and various classes of drug ligands, including some benzodiazepines such as 4′-chlorodiazepam (Ro5-4864). Although TSPO levels in the brain are low, they are increased after brain injury and inflammation. This finding has led to the proposed use of TSPO expression as a marker of brain injury and repair. TSPO drug ligands have been shown to participate in the control of mitochondrial respiration and function, mitochondrial steroid and neurosteroid formation, as well as apoptosis. This review and commentary will outline our current knowledge of the benefits of targeting TSPO for TBI treatment and the mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective effects of TSPO drug ligands in neurotrauma.
Infusion of Fe2+, Aβ42, and buthionine-sulfoximine (FAB), but not Aβ42 alone or in combination with Fe2+, into the left cerebral ventricle of Long-Evans rats for 4 weeks induced memory impairment that was accompanied by increased hyperphosphorylated Tau protein levels in the CSF. FAB-infused animals displayed thioflavin-S-positive amyloid deposits, hyperphosphorylated Tau protein, neuronal loss, and gliosis. Animals treated with Aβ42, Fe2+, or buthionine-sulfoximine alone or in combination failed to show the histological modifications seen with FAB. This data suggests that Aβ42 is not sufficient to induce an Alzheimer’s disease-like symptomatology, and it supports a model whereby a decrease in the brain’s antioxidant defense system leads to the Aβ42-independent oxidative stress necessary for the peptide to induce histopathological changes and memory loss.
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