Many risk genes for the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are exclusively or highly expressed in myeloid cells. Microglia are dependent on colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) signaling for their survival. We designed and synthesized a highly selective brain-penetrant CSF1R inhibitor (PLX5622) allowing for extended and specific microglial elimination, preceding and during pathology development. We find that in the 5xFAD mouse model of AD, plaques fail to form in the parenchymal space following microglial depletion, except in areas containing surviving microglia. Instead, Aβ deposits in cortical blood vessels reminiscent of cerebral amyloid angiopathy. Altered gene expression in the 5xFAD hippocampus is also reversed by the absence of microglia. Transcriptional analyses of the residual plaque-forming microglia show they exhibit a disease-associated microglia profile. Collectively, we describe the structure, formulation, and efficacy of PLX5622, which allows for sustained microglial depletion and identify roles of microglia in initiating plaque pathogenesis.
Microglia, the resident immune cell of the brain, can be eliminated via pharmacological inhibition of the colony‐stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R). Withdrawal of CSF1R inhibition then stimulates microglial repopulation, effectively replacing the microglial compartment. In the aged brain, microglia take on a “primed” phenotype and studies indicate that this coincides with age‐related cognitive decline. Here, we investigated the effects of replacing the aged microglial compartment with new microglia using CSF1R inhibitor‐induced microglial repopulation. With 28 days of repopulation, replacement of resident microglia in aged mice (24 months) improved spatial memory and restored physical microglial tissue characteristics (cell densities and morphologies) to those found in young adult animals (4 months). However, inflammation‐related gene expression was not broadly altered with repopulation nor the response to immune challenges. Instead, microglial repopulation resulted in a reversal of age‐related changes in neuronal gene expression, including expression of genes associated with actin cytoskeleton remodeling and synaptogenesis. Age‐related changes in hippocampal neuronal complexity were reversed with both microglial elimination and repopulation, while microglial elimination increased both neurogenesis and dendritic spine densities. These changes were accompanied by a full rescue of age‐induced deficits in long‐term potentiation with microglial repopulation. Thus, several key aspects of the aged brain can be reversed by acute noninvasive replacement of microglia.
Background Microglia, the brain's principal immune cell, are increasingly implicated in Alzheimer's disease (AD), but the molecular interfaces through which these cells contribute to amyloid beta (Aβ)-related neurodegeneration are unclear. We recently identified microglial contributions to the homeostatic and disease-associated modulation of perineuronal nets (PNNs), extracellular matrix structures that enwrap and stabilize neuronal synapses, but whether PNNs are altered in AD remains controversial. Methods Extensive histological analysis was performed on male and female 5xFAD mice at 4, 8, 12, and 18 months of age to assess plaque burden, microgliosis, and PNNs. Findings were validated in postmortem AD tissue. The role of neuroinflammation in PNN loss was investigated via LPS treatment, and the ability to prevent or rescue disease-related reductions in PNNs was assessed by treating 5xFAD and 3xTg-AD model mice with colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) inhibitor PLX5622 to deplete microglia. Findings Utilizing the 5xFAD mouse model and human cortical tissue, we report that PNNs are extensively lost in AD in proportion to plaque burden. Activated microglia closely associate with and engulf damaged nets in the 5xFAD brain, and inclusions of PNN material are evident in mouse and human microglia, while aggrecan, a critical PNN component, deposits within human dense-core plaques. Disease-associated reductions in parvalbumin (PV)+ interneurons, frequently coated by PNNs, are preceded by PNN coverage and integrity impairments, and similar phenotypes are elicited in wild-type mice following microglial activation with LPS. Chronic pharmacological depletion of microglia prevents 5xFAD PNN loss, with similar results observed following depletion in aged 3xTg-AD mice, and this occurs despite plaque persistence. Interpretation We conclude that phenotypically altered microglia facilitate plaque-dependent PNN loss in the AD brain. Funding The NIH (NIA, NINDS) and the Alzheimer's Association.
Autophagy is a conserved membrane trafficking pathway that mediates the delivery of cytoplasmic substrates to the lysosome for degradation. Impaired autophagic function is implicated in the pathology of various neurodegenerative diseases. We have generated transgenic C. elegans that express human β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) in order to examine the mechanism(s) of Aβ-toxicity. In this model, Aβ expression causes autophagosome accumulation, thereby mimicking a pathology found in brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. Furthermore, we demonstrate that decreased insulin-receptor signaling [using the daf-2(e1370) mutation] suppresses Aβ-induced paralysis by a mechanism that requires autophagy. Surprisingly, the daf-2 mutation also decreases Aβ-induced autophagosome accumulation. These observations can be explained by a model in which decreased insulin-receptor signaling promotes the maturation of autophagosomes into degradative autolysosomes, whereas Aβ impairs this process. Consistent with this model, we find that RNAi-mediated knock-down of lysosomal components results in enhanced Aβ-toxicity and autophagosome accumulation. Also, Aβ; daf-2(e1370) nematodes contain more lysosomes than either Aβ or control strains. Finally, we demonstrate that decreased insulin-receptor signaling promotes the autophagic degradation of Aβ.
BackgroundPharmacologic inhibition of C5aR1, a receptor for the complement activation proinflammatory fragment, C5a, suppressed pathology and cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease (AD) mouse models. To validate that the effect of the antagonist was specifically via C5aR1 inhibition, mice lacking C5aR1 were generated and compared in behavior and pathology. In addition, since C5aR1 is primarily expressed on cells of the myeloid lineage, and only to a lesser extent on endothelial cells and neurons in brain, gene expression in microglia isolated from adult brain at multiple ages was compared across all genotypes.MethodsC5aR1 knock out mice were crossed to the Arctic AD mouse model, and characterized for pathology and for behavior performance in a hippocampal dependent memory task. CX3CR1GFP and CCR2RFP reporter mice were bred to C5aR1 sufficient and knockout wild type and Arctic mice to enable sorting of microglia (GFP-positive, RFP-negative) isolated from adult brain at 2, 5, 7 and 10 months of age followed by RNA-seq analysis.ResultsA lack of C5aR1 prevented behavior deficits at 10 months, although amyloid plaque load was not altered. Immunohistochemical analysis showed no CCR2+ monocytes/macrophages near the plaques in the Arctic brain with or without C5aR1. Microglia were sorted from infiltrating monocytes (GFP and RFP-positive) for transcriptome analysis. RNA-seq analysis identified inflammation related genes as differentially expressed, with increased expression in the Arctic mice relative to wild type and decreased expression in the Arctic/C5aR1KO relative to Arctic. In addition, phagosomal-lysosomal gene expression was increased in the Arctic mice relative to wild type but further increased in the Arctic/C5aR1KO mice. A decrease in neuronal complexity was seen in hippocampus of 10 month old Arctic mice at the time that correlates with the behavior deficit, both of which were rescued in the Arctic/C5aR1KO.ConclusionsThese data are consistent with microglial polarization in the absence of C5aR1 signaling reflecting decreased induction of inflammatory genes and enhancement of degradation/clearance pathways, which is accompanied by preservation of CA1 neuronal complexity and hippocampal dependent cognitive function. These results provide links between microglial responses and loss of cognitive performance and, combined with the previous pharmacological approach to inhibit C5aR1 signaling, support the potential of this receptor as a novel therapeutic target for AD in humans.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (10.1186/s13024-017-0210-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to the progressive deterioration of cognitive and memory functions. The deposition of extracellular beta-amyloid (Aβ) senile plaques and intracellular tau neurofibrillary tangles are considered the cardinal pathological hallmarks of AD, however, accumulating evidence indicates that immune cells may also play an important role in disease pathogenesis. Among these immune cells, blood-derived cells and their infiltration into the CNS towards Aβ plaques have been implicated in therapeutic strategies against AD. Here, we review the current literature on blood cell migration into the AD brain and the important players involved in this selective migration towards Aβ plaques.
Several studies have shown that elevated plasma cholesterol levels (i.e. hypercholesterolemia) serve as a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, it remains unclear how hypercholesterolemia may contribute to the onset and progression of AD pathology. In order to determine the role of hypercholesterolemia at various stages of AD, we evaluated the effects of high cholesterol diet (5% cholesterol) in wild-type (WT; C57BL6) and triple-transgenic AD (3xTg-AD; Psen1, APPSwe, tauB301L) mice at 7, 14, and 20 months. The transgenic APPSwedish/Dutch/Iowa AD mouse model (APPSwDI) was used as a control since these animals are more pathologically-accelerated and are known to exhibit extensive plaque deposition and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. Here, we describe the effects of high cholesterol diet on: (1) cognitive function and stress, (2) AD-associated pathologies, (3) neuroinflammation, (4) blood-brain barrier disruption and ventricle size, and (5) vascular dysfunction. Our data show that high dietary cholesterol increases weight, slightly impairs cognitive function, promotes glial cell activation and complement-related pathways, enhances the infiltration of blood-derived proteins and alters vascular integrity, however, it does not induce AD-related pathologies. While normal-fed 3xTg-AD mice display a typical AD-like pathology in addition to severe cognitive impairment and neuroinflammation at 20 months of age, vascular alterations are less pronounced. No microbleedings were seen by MRI, however, the ventricle size was enlarged. Triple-transgenic AD mice, on the other hand, fed a high cholesterol diet do not survive past 14 months of age. Our data indicates that cholesterol does not markedly potentiate AD-related pathology, nor does it cause significant impairments in cognition. However, it appears that high cholesterol diet markedly increases stress-related plasma corticosterone levels as well as some vessel pathologies. Together, our findings represent the first demonstration of prolonged high cholesterol diet and the examination of its effects at various stages of cerebrovascular-and AD-related disease.
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