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      ApoE4 markedly exacerbates tau-mediated neurodegeneration in a mouse model of tauopathy

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          Abstract

          APOE4 is the strongest genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer disease. ApoE4 increases brain amyloid-β pathology relative to other ApoE isoforms. However, whether APOE independently influences tau pathology, the other major proteinopathy of Alzheimer disease and other tauopathies, or tau-mediated neurodegeneration, is not clear. By generating P301S tau transgenic mice on either a human ApoE knock-in (KI) or ApoE knockout (KO) background, here we show that P301S/E4 mice have significantly higher tau levels in the brain and a greater extent of somatodendritic tau redistribution by three months of age compared with P301S/E2, P301S/E3, and P301S/EKO mice. By nine months of age, P301S mice with different ApoE genotypes display distinct phosphorylated tau protein (p-tau) staining patterns. P301S/E4 mice develop markedly more brain atrophy and neuroinflammation than P301S/E2 and P301S/E3 mice, whereas P301S/EKO mice are largely protected from these changes. In vitro, E4-expressing microglia exhibit higher innate immune reactivity after lipopolysaccharide treatment. Co-culturing P301S tau-expressing neurons with E4-expressing mixed glia results in a significantly higher level of tumour-necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) secretion and markedly reduced neuronal viability compared with neuron/E2 and neuron/E3 co-cultures. Neurons co-cultured with EKO glia showed the greatest viability with the lowest level of secreted TNF-α. Treatment of P301S neurons with recombinant ApoE (E2, E3, E4) also leads to some neuronal damage and death compared with the absence of ApoE, with ApoE4 exacerbating the effect. In individuals with a sporadic primary tauopathy, the presence of an ε4 allele is associated with more severe regional neurodegeneration. In individuals who are positive for amyloid-β pathology with symptomatic Alzheimer disease who usually have tau pathology, ε4-carriers demonstrate greater rates of disease progression. Our results demonstrate that ApoE affects tau pathogenesis, neuroinflammation, and tau-mediated neurodegeneration independently of amyloid-β pathology. ApoE4 exerts a ‘toxic’ gain of function whereas the absence of ApoE is protective.

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          Most cited references 11

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          Neurofibrillary tangles but not senile plaques parallel duration and severity of Alzheimer's disease.

          We studied the accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and senile plaques (SPs) in 10 Alzheimer's disease patients who had been examined during life. We counted NFTs and SPs in 13 cytoarchitectural regions representing limbic, primary sensory, and association cortices, and in subcortical neurotransmitter-specific areas. The degree of neuropathologic change was compared with the severity of dementia, as assessed by the Blessed Dementia Scale and duration of illness. We found that (1) the severity of dementia was positively related to the number of NFTs in neocortex, but not to the degree of SP deposition; (2) NFTs accumulate in a consistent pattern reflecting hierarchic vulnerability of individual cytoarchitectural fields; (3) NFTs appeared in the entorhinal cortex, CA1/subiculum field of the hippocampal formation, and the amygdala early in the disease process; and (4) the degree of SP deposition was also related to a hierarchic vulnerability of certain brain areas to accumulate SPs, but the pattern of SP distribution was different from that of NFT.
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            Targeting miR-155 restores abnormal microglia and attenuates disease in SOD1 mice.

            To investigate miR-155 in the SOD1 mouse model and human sporadic and familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
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              APOE genotype-specific differences in the innate immune response.

              Apolipoprotein-E protein is an endogenous immunomodulatory agent that affects both the innate and the adaptive immune responses. Since individuals with the APOE4 gene demonstrate worsened pathology and poorer outcomes in many neurological disorders, we examined isoform-specific differences in the response of microglia, the primary cellular component of the brain's innate immune response, in detail. Our data demonstrate that microglia derived from APOE4/4 targeted replacement mice demonstrate a pro-inflammatory phenotype that includes altered cell morphology, increased NO production associated with increased NOS2 mRNA levels, and higher pro-inflammatory cytokine production (TNFalpha, IL-6, IL12p40) compared to microglia derived from APOE3/3 targeted replacement mice. The effect is gene dose-dependent and increases with the number of APOE4 gene alleles. The APOE genotype-specific immune profile observed in the microglial immune response is also observed in the cortex of aged APOE3/3 and APOE4/4 mice treated with lipopolysacchride (LPS) and in peripheral (peritoneal) macrophages. To determine if APOE4's action resulted from an isoform-specific difference in effective levels of the apolipoproteins, we generated mice expressing only a single allele of APOE3. Immune-stimulated macrophages from APOE3/0 mice demonstrated an increased inflammatory response compared to APOE3/3 mice, but less than in APOE4/4 mice. These data suggest that inhibition of inflammation depends upon the dose of apoE3 protein available and that apoE4 protein may alter inflammation partly by dose effects and partly by being qualitatively different than apoE3. Overall, these data emphasize the important role of apolipoprotein E and of the APOE genotype on the immune responses that are evident in most, if not all, neurological disease.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Nature
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                September 20 2017
                September 20 2017
                :
                :
                Article
                10.1038/nature24016
                5641217
                28959956
                cfd857ed-b2d0-44ab-8be3-d84cc336fa30
                © 2017
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