Jackson, Rosemary. (2017). An Investigation of Synaptic Dysfunction in Alzheimer’s Disease - Chapter 6 - Image J Macros, [dataset]. University of Edinburh, Deanary of Biomedical Sciences. http://dx.doi.org/10.7488/ds/2131.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by the presence of aggregates of amyloid beta (Aβ) in senile plaques and tau in neurofibrillary tangles, as well as marked neuron and synapse loss. Of these pathological changes, synapse loss correlates most strongly with cognitive decline. Understanding the contributions of different risk factors, toxic proteins, and protein networks to synaptic dysfunction is essential to understanding and one day curing this disease.
Oligomeric species of Aβ are implicated in synapse loss as is tau, however the interaction between them requires further exploration. The first aim of this thesis was to investigate the interaction of Aβ and tau in a novel mouse model AD. In this model APP/PS1 mice were crossed with mice expressing full length wild type human tau (hTau). Expression of hTau in APP/PS1 mice increased plaque size by~50% and increased plaque-associated dystrophic neurites. However, no increase in neurite curvature, neuron loss, or synapse loss was observed in the hTau APP/PS1 animals compared with APP/PS1 alone.
The underlying cause of most cases of AD is not known, however genetic risk factors have been identified, the strongest of which is the APOE 4 allele. APOE 4 is associated with increased risk of developing AD and increased rates of cognitive decline compared to the more common APOE 3 allele. The second aim of this thesis was to detect differences in the AD synaptic proteome compared with controls and to also investigate the effect of an APOE 4 allele on those changes. Unbiased label free LC-MS/MS based proteomics of synapses isolated from AD and control post-mortem brains of known APOE genotypes was used. Of the 1043 proteins detected in 20 synaptic preparations 17% (173) were found to differ significantly (p<0.05, fold change >1.2) in AD compared with control. A significant sub-set of these proteins were affected by APOE 4 allele genotype. One of these was Clusterin which was not only increased in the AD synapse but further increased in cases with an APOE 4 allele. Clusterin is closely related to ApoE has also been genetically linked to AD in genome-wide association studies.
Aim three was to further investigate the involvement of Clusterin at the synapse and the interaction of ApoE with Clusterin using array tomography. Array tomography confirmed an increase in Clusterin co-localization with presynapses and postsynapses in AD cases compared with controls and found a further increase in cases with an APOE 4 allele. Array tomography also found an increase in synapses which co-localized with Clusterin and Aβ together in cases with an APOE 4 allele. This implies that Clusterin is important in Aβ mediated synapse loss in AD.
To further investigate the role of synapse loss in AD aim 4 of this thesis was to develop a novel human based model of Aβ mediated synapse loss. This model uses cortical neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells from a control individual that are challenged with Aβ extracted from brains from AD and control individuals. This model shows a significant and concentration dependent reduction in the number of synapses in response Aβ from AD brain but not to control brain extract or AD brain extract immunodepleted of Aβ.
The work presented in this thesis has investigated two novel models of AD to assess the effect of known toxic proteins in AD related synapse degeneration. This work also shows that profound protein changes occur at the synapse in AD and that many of these are affected by APOE genotype. Many of these changes potentially cause or contribute to synaptic dysfunction in AD and therefore could be important for therapeutic interventions.