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      Synaptic dysfunction and oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s disease: Emerging mechanisms


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          In this paper, we review experimental advances in molecular neurobiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), with special emphasis on analysis of neural function of proteins involved in AD pathogenesis, their relation with several signaling pathways and with oxidative stress in neurons. Molecular genetic studies have found that mutations in APP, PS1 and PS2 genes and polymorphisms in APOE gene are implicated in AD pathogenesis. Recent studies show that these proteins, in addition to its role in beta-amyloid processing, are involved in several neuroplasticity-signaling pathways (NMDA-PKA-CREB-BDNF, reelin, wingless, notch, among others). Genomic and proteomic studies show early synaptic protein alterations in AD brains and animal models. DNA damage caused by oxidative stress is not completely repaired in neurons and is accumulated in the genes of synaptic proteins. Several functional SNPs in synaptic genes may be interesting candidates to explore in AD as genetic correlates of this synaptopathy in a “synaptogenomics” approach. Thus, experimental evidence shows that proteins implicated in AD pathogenesis have differential roles in several signaling pathways related to neuromodulation and neurotransmission in adult and developing brain. Genomic and proteomic studies support these results. We suggest that oxidative stress effects on DNA and inherited variations in synaptic genes may explain in part the synaptic dysfunction seen in AD.

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          Gene regulation and DNA damage in the ageing human brain.

          The ageing of the human brain is a cause of cognitive decline in the elderly and the major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. The time in life when brain ageing begins is undefined. Here we show that transcriptional profiling of the human frontal cortex from individuals ranging from 26 to 106 years of age defines a set of genes with reduced expression after age 40. These genes play central roles in synaptic plasticity, vesicular transport and mitochondrial function. This is followed by induction of stress response, antioxidant and DNA repair genes. DNA damage is markedly increased in the promoters of genes with reduced expression in the aged cortex. Moreover, these gene promoters are selectively damaged by oxidative stress in cultured human neurons, and show reduced base-excision DNA repair. Thus, DNA damage may reduce the expression of selectively vulnerable genes involved in learning, memory and neuronal survival, initiating a programme of brain ageing that starts early in adult life.
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            APP processing and synaptic function.

            A large body of evidence has implicated Abeta peptides and other derivatives of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) as central to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the functional relationship of APP and its proteolytic derivatives to neuronal electrophysiology is not known. Here, we show that neuronal activity modulates the formation and secretion of Abeta peptides in hippocampal slice neurons that overexpress APP. In turn, Abeta selectively depresses excitatory synaptic transmission onto neurons that overexpress APP, as well as nearby neurons that do not. This depression depends on NMDA-R activity and can be reversed by blockade of neuronal activity. Synaptic depression from excessive Abeta could contribute to cognitive decline during early AD. In addition, we propose that activity-dependent modulation of endogenous Abeta production may normally participate in a negative feedback that could keep neuronal hyperactivity in check. Disruption of this feedback system could contribute to disease progression in AD.
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              Serotonin transporter genetic variation and the response of the human amygdala.

              A functional polymorphism in the promoter region of the human serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) has been associated with several dimensions of neuroticism and psychopathology, especially anxiety traits, but the predictive value of this genotype against these complex behaviors has been inconsistent. Serotonin [5- hydroxytryptamine, (5-HT)] function influences normal fear as well as pathological anxiety, behaviors critically dependent on the amygdala in animal models and in clinical studies. We now report that individuals with one or two copies of the short allele of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) promoter polymorphism, which has been associated with reduced 5-HTT expression and function and increased fear and anxiety-related behaviors, exhibit greater amygdala neuronal activity, as assessed by BOLD functional magnetic resonance imaging, in response to fearful stimuli compared with individuals homozygous for the long allele. These results demonstrate genetically driven variation in the response of brain regions underlying human emotional behavior and suggest that differential excitability of the amygdala to emotional stimuli may contribute to the increased fear and anxiety typically associated with the short SLC6A4 allele.

                Author and article information

                J Cell Mol Med
                J. Cell. Mol. Med
                Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
                John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (Chichester, UK )
                July 2006
                01 May 2007
                : 10
                : 3
                : 796-805
                [a ]Grupo de Neurociencias, Facultad de Medicina e Instituto de Genética, Universidad Nacional de Colombia Bogotá, Colombia
                [b ]Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH, USA
                [c ]Departamento de Pediatria, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional de Colombia Bogotá, Colombia
                [4 ]Current Affiliation: Applied Molecular Genomics Group, Department of Molecular Genetics, Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology, University of Antwerp Antwerp, Belgium
                Author notes
                *Correspondence to: Dr. Humbgerto ARBOLEDA Instituto de Genética, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Ciudad Universitaria, Bogotá, Colombia, Ciudad Universitaria, Bogotá, Colombia. Tel.: +57-1-3165000, ext. 11613 Fax: +57-1-3165526 E-mail: harboledag@ 123456unal.edu.co
                Point of View

                Molecular medicine
                alzheimer’s disease,molecular genetics,neurobiology,oxidative stress,synaptic plasticity


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