The involvement of degradation pathways and neuron-to-neuron transmission in Alzheimer’s disease
Sammanfattning: Although the vast majority of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) cases are of the sporadic type, mutations causing the familial form have been the focus of AD research for decades. The disease is pathologically characterised by ?-amyloid (A?) and tau protein aggregates in neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Furthermore, it is known that AD pathology spreads throughout the brain, most often along the same anatomical pattern. However, so far no cause for the sporadic form of the disease has been found. Accumulation of protein aggregates as well as decreased activity of the protein degradation systems, lysosomes and proteasomes, is found in diseased brains. This indicates that defective degradation contributes to sporadic AD.The aim of this thesis was to develop an improved neuronal model, and study the effects of decreased proteasome function on tau phosphorylation and axonal transport. In addition, the effects on A? accumulation and generation upon proteasome inhibition were investigated. Finally, the possibility that intracellularly accumulated A? oligomers could be transferred from one neuron to another was tested.Differentiation of human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells in an extracellular matrix gel, using a set of neurotrophic factors, resulted in cells with neuronal phenotype, expressing neuron specific markers and all six adult isoforms of tau. Within this neuronal model, we found that reduced proteasome activity inhibited neuritic transport, and caused tau phosphorylation in a c-Jun and ERK 1/2 dependent manner. Using proteasome inhibition in APP overexpressing cells, we found an autophagy dependent intralysosomal A? accumulation, together with elevation of intra- and extracellular concentrations of A?. Autophagy inhibition protected the cells from the toxicity induced by decreased proteasome activity. Finally, we could, as the first group, show that A? can be directly transferred from one neuron to another through connected neurites. Furthermore, accumulation of A? in the endo-lysosomal compartment of receiving cells caused toxicity and neurodegeneration.We believe that cells not able to degrade accumulated A?, due to increased generation or reduced degradative capacity, instead tries to clear its content through transfer to connected neurons. If not properly degraded in the receiving cell, this can accelerate AD pathology and cause neuritic and neuronal degeneration spreading throughout the brain. Increasing the activity of the degradative systems, or inhibiting transmission of A? between neurons could therefore be novel treatments for AD.
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