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      Tau in physiology and pathology

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      Nature Reviews Neuroscience

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Tau is a microtubule-associated protein that has a role in stabilizing neuronal microtubules and thus in promoting axonal outgrowth. Structurally, tau is a natively unfolded protein, is highly soluble and shows little tendency for aggregation. However, tau aggregation is characteristic of several neurodegenerative diseases known as tauopathies. The mechanisms underlying tau pathology and tau-mediated neurodegeneration are debated, but considerable progress has been made in the field of tau research in recent years, including the identification of new physiological roles for tau in the brain. Here, we review the expression, post-translational modifications and functions of tau in physiology and in pathophysiology.

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          Most cited references 128

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          Neuronal loss correlates with but exceeds neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease.

          To assess the relationship between dementia, neuronal loss, and neuropathological findings in Alzheimer's disease (AD), we counted the number of neurons, senile plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles in a high-order association cortex. We studied the superior temporal sulcus of 34 individuals with AD and 17 nondemented control subjects, using statistically unbiased, stereological counting techniques. The number of superior temporal sulcus neurons in nondemented control subjects was stable across the sixth to ninth decades. In AD, more than 50% of the neurons were lost. Both neuronal loss and neurofibrillary tangles increased in parallel with the duration and severity of illness, but the amount of neuronal loss exceeded by manyfold the amount of neurofibrillary tangles accumulated. In contrast to the correlation between neurofibrillary tangles and neuronal loss, the number of senile plaques and the percentage of the superior temporal sulcus that was covered by Abeta (amyloid burden) were not related to neuronal loss, number of neurofibrillary tangles, or duration of disease. Neither the amount nor the rate of neuronal loss in the superior temporal sulcus in AD correlated with apolipoprotein E genotype. These data suggest that neuronal loss in association areas such as the superior temporal sulcus contributes directly to cognitive impairment in AD.
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            Myelination of the nervous system: mechanisms and functions.

            Myelination of axons in the nervous system of vertebrates enables fast, saltatory impulse propagation, one of the best-understood concepts in neurophysiology. However, it took a long while to recognize the mechanistic complexity both of myelination by oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells and of their cellular interactions. In this review, we highlight recent advances in our understanding of myelin biogenesis, its lifelong plasticity, and the reciprocal interactions of myelinating glia with the axons they ensheath. In the central nervous system, myelination is also stimulated by axonal activity and astrocytes, whereas myelin clearance involves microglia/macrophages. Once myelinated, the long-term integrity of axons depends on glial supply of metabolites and neurotrophic factors. The relevance of this axoglial symbiosis is illustrated in normal brain aging and human myelin diseases, which can be studied in corresponding mouse models. Thus, myelinating cells serve a key role in preserving the connectivity and functions of a healthy nervous system.
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              Mitochondrial defects and oxidative stress in Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease.

              Alzheimer disease (AD) and Parkinson disease (PD) are the two most common age-related neurodegenerative diseases characterized by prominent neurodegeneration in selective neural systems. Although a small fraction of AD and PD cases exhibit evidence of heritability, among which many genes have been identified, the majority are sporadic without known causes. Molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration and pathogenesis of these diseases remain elusive. Convincing evidence demonstrates oxidative stress as a prominent feature in AD and PD and links oxidative stress to the development of neuronal death and neural dysfunction, which suggests a key pathogenic role for oxidative stress in both AD and PD. Notably, mitochondrial dysfunction is also a prominent feature in these diseases, which is likely to be of critical importance in the genesis and amplification of reactive oxygen species and the pathophysiology of these diseases. In this review, we focus on changes in mitochondrial DNA and mitochondrial dynamics, two aspects critical to the maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis and function, in relationship with oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of AD and PD. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Neuroscience
                Nat Rev Neurosci
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1471-003X
                1471-0048
                January 2016
                December 3 2015
                January 2016
                : 17
                : 1
                : 22-35
                Article
                10.1038/nrn.2015.1
                26631930
                © 2016

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