+1 Recommend
0 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Neuronal Death Induced by Nanomolar Amyloid β Is Mediated by Primary Phagocytosis of Neurons by Microglia*


      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.


          Background: Amyloid β (Aβ) induces neuronal and synaptic loss in Alzheimer disease.

          Results: Nanomolar Aβ induced microglia-dependent neuronal death and synaptic loss that was prevented by four inhibitors of phagocytosis.

          Conclusion: Microglial phagocytosis was the primary cause of neuronal death and synaptic loss induced by nanomolar Aβ.

          Significance: This is a new mechanism of cell death, suggesting a new treatment strategy for Alzheimer disease.


          Alzheimer disease is characterized by neuronal loss and brain plaques of extracellular amyloid β (Aβ), but the means by which Aβ may induce neuronal loss is not entirely clear. Although high concentrations of Aβ (μ m) can induce direct toxicity to neurons, we find that low concentration (n m) induce neuronal loss through a microglia-mediated mechanism. In mixed neuronal-glial cultures from rat cerebellum, 250 n m Aβ1–42 (added as monomers, oligomers or fibers) induced about 30% loss of neurons between 2 and 3 days. This neuronal loss occurred without any increase in neuronal apoptosis or necrosis, and no neuronal loss occurred with Aβ42–1. Aβ greatly increased the phagocytic capacity of microglia and induced phosphatidylserine exposure (an “eat-me” signal) on neuronal processes. Blocking exposed phosphatidylserine by adding annexin V or an antibody to phosphatidylserine or inhibiting microglial phagocytosis by adding either cytochalasin D (to block actin polymerization) or cyclo(RGDfV) (to block vitronectin receptors) significantly prevented neuronal loss. Loss of neuronal synapses occurred in parallel with loss of cell bodies and was also prevented by blocking phagocytosis. Inhibition of phagocytosis prevented neuronal loss with no increase in neuronal death, even after 7 days, suggesting that microglial phagocytosis was the primary cause of neuronal death induced by nanomolar Aβ.

          Related collections

          Most cited references45

          • Record: found
          • Abstract: found
          • Article: not found

          Exposure of phosphatidylserine on the surface of apoptotic lymphocytes triggers specific recognition and removal by macrophages.

          During normal tissue remodeling, macrophages remove unwanted cells, including those that have undergone programmed cell death, or apoptosis. This widespread process extends to the deletion of thymocytes (negative selection), in which cells expressing inappropriate Ag receptors undergo apoptosis, and are phagocytosed by thymic macrophages. Although phagocytosis of effete leukocytes by macrophages has been known since the time of Metchnikoff, only recently has it been recognized that apoptosis leads to surface changes that allow recognition and removal of these cells before they are lysed. Our data suggest that macrophages specifically recognize phosphatidylserine that is exposed on the surface of lymphocytes during the development of apoptosis. Macrophage phagocytosis of apoptotic lymphocytes was inhibited, in a dose-dependent manner, by liposomes containing phosphatidyl-L-serine, but not by liposomes containing other anionic phospholipids, including phosphatidyl-D-serine. Phagocytosis of apoptotic lymphocytes was also inhibited by the L isoforms of compounds structurally related to phosphatidylserine, including glycerophosphorylserine and phosphoserine. The membranes of apoptotic lymphocytes bound increased amounts of merocyanine 540 dye relative to those of normal cells, indicating that their membrane lipids were more loosely packed, consistent with a loss of membrane phospholipid asymmetry. Apoptotic lymphocytes were shown to express phosphatidylserine (PS) externally, because PS on their surfaces was accessible to derivatization by fluorescamine, and because apoptotic cells expressed procoagulant activity. These observations suggest that apoptotic lymphocytes lose membrane phospholipid asymmetry and expose phosphatidylserine on the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane. Macrophages then phagocytose apoptotic lymphocytes after specific recognition of the exposed PS.
            • Record: found
            • Abstract: found
            • Article: not found

            Soluble pool of Abeta amyloid as a determinant of severity of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease.

            Genetic evidence strongly supports the view that Abeta amyloid production is central to the cause of Alzheimer's disease. The kinetics, compartmentation, and form of Abeta and its temporal relation to the neurodegenerative process remain uncertain. The levels of soluble and insoluble Abeta were determined by using western blot techniques, and the findings were assessed in relation to indices of severity of disease. The mean level of soluble Abeta is increased threefold in Alzheimer's disease and correlates highly with markers of disease severity. In contrast, the level of insoluble Abeta (also a measure of total amyloid load) is found only to discriminate Alzheimer's disease from controls, and does not correlate with disease severity or numbers of amyloid plaques. These findings support the concept of several interacting pools of Abeta, that is, a large relatively static insoluble pool that is derived from a constantly turning over smaller soluble pool. The latter may exist in both intracellular and extracellular compartments, and contain the basic forms of Abeta that cause neurodegeneration. Reducing the levels of these soluble Abeta species by threefold to levels found in normal controls might prove to be a goal of future therapeutic intervention.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              CD14 and toll-like receptors 2 and 4 are required for fibrillar A{beta}-stimulated microglial activation.

              Microglia are the brain's tissue macrophages and are found in an activated state surrounding beta-amyloid plaques in the Alzheimer's disease brain. Microglia interact with fibrillar beta-amyloid (fAbeta) through an ensemble of surface receptors composed of the alpha(6)beta(1) integrin, CD36, CD47, and the class A scavenger receptor. These receptors act in concert to initiate intracellular signaling cascades and phenotypic activation of these cells. However, it is unclear how engagement of this receptor complex is linked to the induction of an activated microglial phenotype. We report that the response of microglial cells to fibrillar forms of Abeta requires the participation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and the coreceptor CD14. The response of microglia to fAbeta is reliant upon CD14, which act together with TLR4 and TLR2 to bind fAbeta and to activate intracellular signaling. We find that cells lacking these receptors could not initiate a Src-Vav-Rac signaling cascade leading to reactive oxygen species production and phagocytosis. The fAbeta-mediated activation of p38 MAPK also required CD14, TLR4, and TLR2. Inhibition of p38 abrogated fAbeta-induced reactive oxygen species production and attenuated the induction of phagocytosis. Microglia lacking CD14, TLR4, and TLR2 showed no induction of phosphorylated IkappaBalpha following fAbeta. These data indicate these innate immune receptors function as members of the microglial fAbeta receptor complex and identify the signaling mechanisms whereby they contribute to microglial activation.

                Author and article information

                J Biol Chem
                The Journal of Biological Chemistry
                American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814, U.S.A. )
                18 November 2011
                8 September 2011
                8 September 2011
                : 286
                : 46
                : 39904-39913
                [1]From the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QW, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                [1 ] To whom correspondence should be addressed: Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QW, United Kingdom. Tel.: 44-1223-33701; Fax: 44-1223-333345; E-mail: us230@ 123456cam.ac.uk .
                © 2011 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

                Author's Choice—Final version full access.

                Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License applies to Author Choice Articles

                : 2 June 2011
                : 30 August 2011
                Molecular Bases of Disease

                phagocytosis,alzheimer disease,phosphatidylserine,microglia,inflammation
                phagocytosis, alzheimer disease, phosphatidylserine, microglia, inflammation


                Comment on this article