Publications by authors named "Elisabete Ferreiro"

28 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Unraveling the Nanoscopic Organization and Function of Central Mammalian Presynapses With Super-Resolution Microscopy.

Front Neurosci 2020 8;14:578409. Epub 2021 Jan 8.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

The complex, nanoscopic scale of neuronal function, taking place at dendritic spines, axon terminals, and other minuscule structures, cannot be adequately resolved using standard, diffraction-limited imaging techniques. The last couple of decades saw a rapid evolution of imaging methods that overcome the diffraction limit imposed by Abbe's principle. These techniques, including structured illumination microscopy (SIM), stimulated emission depletion (STED), photo-activated localization microscopy (PALM), and stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM), among others, have revolutionized our understanding of synapse biology. By exploiting the stochastic nature of fluorophore light/dark states or non-linearities in the interaction of fluorophores with light, by using modified illumination strategies that limit the excitation area, these methods can achieve spatial resolutions down to just a few tens of nm or less. Here, we review how these advanced imaging techniques have contributed to unprecedented insight into the nanoscopic organization and function of mammalian neuronal presynapses, revealing new organizational principles or lending support to existing views, while raising many important new questions. We further discuss recent technical refinements and newly developed tools that will continue to expand our ability to delve deeper into how synaptic function is orchestrated at the nanoscopic level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2020.578409DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7874199PMC
January 2021

Chronic hyperglycemia impairs hippocampal neurogenesis and memory in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model.

Neurobiol Aging 2020 08 15;92:98-113. Epub 2020 Apr 15.

CNC - Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra (FMUC), Coimbra, Portugal. Electronic address:

During aging, lifestyle-related factors shape the brain's response to insults and modulate the progression of neurodegenerative pathologies such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). This is the case for chronic hyperglycemia associated with type 2 diabetes, which reduces the brain's ability to handle the neurodegenerative burden associated with AD. However, the mechanisms behind the effects of chronic hyperglycemia in the context of AD are not fully understood. Here, we show that newly generated neurons in the hippocampal dentate gyrus of triple transgenic AD (3xTg-AD) mice present increased dendritic arborization and a number of synaptic puncta, which may constitute a compensatory mechanism allowing the animals to cope with a lower neurogenesis rate. Contrariwise, chronic hyperglycemia decreases the complexity and differentiation of 3xTg-AD newborn neurons and reduces the levels of β-catenin, a key intrinsic modulator of neuronal maturation. Moreover, synaptic facilitation is depressed in hyperglycemic 3xTg-AD mice, accompanying the defective hippocampal-dependent memory. Our data suggest that hyperglycemia evokes cellular and functional alterations that accelerate the onset of AD-related symptoms, namely memory impairment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2020.04.003DOI Listing
August 2020

miRNA-31 Improves Cognition and Abolishes Amyloid-β Pathology by Targeting APP and BACE1 in an Animal Model of Alzheimer's Disease.

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 2020 Mar 17;19:1219-1236. Epub 2020 Jan 17.

CNC- Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal; Institute for Interdisciplinary Research (IIIUC), University of Coimbra, 3030-789 Coimbra, Portugal. Electronic address:

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia worldwide, characterized by progressive memory impairment, behavioral changes, and, ultimately, loss of consciousness and death. Recently, microRNA (miRNA) dysfunction has been associated with increased production and impaired clearance of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides, whose accumulation is one of the most well-known pathophysiological markers of this disease. In this study, we identified several miRNAs capable of targeting key proteins of the amyloidogenic pathway. The expression of one of these miRNAs, miR-31, previously found to be decreased in AD patients, was able to simultaneously reduce the levels of APP and Bace1 mRNA in the hippocampus of 17-month-old AD triple-transgenic (3xTg-AD) female mice, leading to a significant improvement of memory deficits and a reduction in anxiety and cognitive inflexibility. In addition, lentiviral-mediated miR-31 expression significantly ameliorated AD neuropathology in this model, drastically reducing Aβ deposition in both the hippocampus and subiculum. Furthermore, the increase of miR-31 levels was enough to reduce the accumulation of glutamate vesicles in the hippocampus to levels found in non-transgenic age-matched animals. Overall, our results suggest that miR-31-mediated modulation of APP and BACE1 can become a therapeutic option in the treatment of AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.omtn.2020.01.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7031139PMC
March 2020

Histamine modulates hippocampal inflammation and neurogenesis in adult mice.

Sci Rep 2019 06 10;9(1):8384. Epub 2019 Jun 10.

CICS-UBI - Health Sciences Research Centre, University of Beira Interior, 6201-001, Covilhã, Portugal.

Evidence points to a dual role of histamine in microglia-mediated neuroinflammation, a key pathological feature of several neurodegenerative pathologies. Moreover, histamine has been suggested as a modulator of adult neurogenesis. Herein, we evaluated the effect of histamine in hippocampal neuroinflammation and neurogenesis under physiological and inflammatory contexts. For that purpose, mice were intraperitoneally challenged with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) followed by an intrahippocampal injection of histamine. We showed that histamine per se triggered glial reactivity and induced mild long-term impairments in neurogenesis, reducing immature neurons dendritic volume and complexity. Nevertheless, in mice exposed to LPS (2 mg/Kg), histamine was able to counteract LPS-induced glial activation and release of pro-inflammatory molecules as well as neurogenesis impairment. Moreover, histamine prevented LPS-induced loss of immature neurons complexity as well as LPS-induced loss of both CREB and PSD-95 proteins (essential for proper neuronal activity). Altogether, our results highlight histamine as a potential therapeutic agent to treat neurological conditions associated with hippocampal neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44816-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6558030PMC
June 2019

Chronic stress triggers divergent dendritic alterations in immature neurons of the adult hippocampus, depending on their ultimate terminal fields.

Transl Psychiatry 2019 04 26;9(1):143. Epub 2019 Apr 26.

Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Medicine, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057, Braga, Portugal.

Chronic stress, a suggested precipitant of brain pathologies, such as depression and Alzheimer's disease, is known to impact on brain plasticity by causing neuronal remodeling as well as neurogenesis suppression in the adult hippocampus. Although many studies show that stressful conditions reduce the number of newborn neurons in the adult dentate gyrus (DG), little is known about whether and how stress impacts on dendritic development and structural maturation of these newborn neurons. We, herein, demonstrate that chronic stress impacts differentially on doublecortin (DCX)-positive immature neurons in distinct phases of maturation. Specifically, the density of the DCX-positive immature neurons whose dendritic tree reaches the inner molecular layer (IML) of DG is reduced in stressed animals, whereas their dendritic complexity is increased. On the contrary, no change on the density of DCX-positive neurons whose dendritic tree extends to the medial/outer molecular layer (M/OML) of the DG is found under stress conditions, whereas the dendritic complexity of these cells is diminished. In addition, DCX+ cells displayed a more complex and longer arbor in the dendritic compartments located in the granular cell layer of the DG under stress conditions; on the contrary, their dendritic segments localized into the M/OML were shorter and less complex. These findings suggest that the neuroplastic effects of chronic stress on dendritic maturation and complexity of DCX+ immature neurons vary based on the different maturation stage of DCX-positive cells and the different DG sublayer, highlighting the complex and dynamic stress-driven neuroplasticity of immature neurons in the adult hippocampus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-019-0477-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6486609PMC
April 2019

biomass increases dendritic arborization of newly-generated neurons in mouse hippocampal dentate gyrus.

Oncotarget 2018 Aug 31;9(68):32929-32942. Epub 2018 Aug 31.

CNC-Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

Brain cognitive reserve refers to the ability of the brain to manage different challenges that arise throughout life, making it resilient to neuropathology. Hippocampal adult neurogenesis has been considered to be a relevant contributor for brain cognitive reserve and brain plasticity. (CV), a common healthful mushroom, has been receiving increasing attention by its antitumoral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and immunomodulatory properties, including in the hippocampus. Herein, we evaluated whether CV biomass oral administration for 2.5 months enhances hippocampal neurogenic reserve under normal/physiological conditions, by quantifying hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) granular cell layer (GCL) and subgranular zone (SGZ) volumes, proliferation, number and dendritic complexity features of hippocampal newly-generated neurons. We also analyzed β-catenin levels in DG newly-generated immature neurons, because it plays a major role in neurogenesis. Although no differences were observed in the volume of GCL and SGZ layers, in proliferation and in the number of newly-generated neurons of controls and CV-administered mice, we found that CV administration promotes a significant increase in dendritic length and branching and total dendritic volume of immature neurons, suggesting a positive effect of oral CV administration in the hippocampal neurogenic reserve. We also observed that β-catenin levels are increased both in the nucleus and cytoplasm of DG immature neurons, suggesting that Wnt/β-catenin signalling may play an important role in the CV positive effect on the differentiation of these cells. These data unveil a so far unexplored neurogenic potential of CV supplementation, which emerges as a possible preventive strategy for different neurological conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25978DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6152478PMC
August 2018

Characterization of subventricular zone-derived progenitor cells from mild and late symptomatic YAC128 mouse model of Huntington's disease.

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis 2018 Jan 20;1864(1):34-44. Epub 2017 Sep 20.

CNC-Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal; FMUC-Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, 3000-548 Coimbra, Portugal. Electronic address:

Huntington's disease (HD) is caused by an expansion of CAG repeats in the HTT gene, leading to expression of mutant huntingtin (mHTT) and selective striatal neuronal loss, frequently associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and decreased support of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). New neurons derived from the subventricular zone (SVZ) are apparently not able to rescue HD pathological features. Thus, we analyzed proliferation, migration and differentiation of adult SVZ-derived neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPC) from mild (6month-old (mo)) and late (10mo) symptomatic HD YAC128 mice expressing full-length (FL)-mHTT versus age-matched wild-type (WT) mice. SVZ cells derived from 6mo YAC128 mice exhibited higher migratory capacity and a higher number of MAP2+ and synaptophysin+cells, compared to WT cells; MAP2 labeling was enhanced after exposure to BDNF. However, BDNF-evoked neuronal differentiation was not observed in 10mo YAC128 SVZ-derived cells. Interestingly, 6mo YAC128 SVZ-derived cells showed increased intracellular Ca levels in response to KCl, which was potentiated by BDNF, evidencing the presence of differentiated neurons. In contrast, KCl depolarization-induced intracellular Ca increase in 10mo YAC128 SVZ-derived cells was shown to be increased only in BDNF-treated YAC128 SVZ-derived cells, suggestive of decreased differentiation capacity. In addition, BDNF-untreated NSPC from 10mo YAC128 mice exhibited lower mitochondrial membrane potential and increased mitochondrial Ca accumulation, in relation with NSPC from 6mo YAC128 mice. Data evidence age-dependent reduced migration and decreased acquisition of a neuronal phenotype, accompanied by decreased mitochondrial membrane potential in SVZ-derived cells from YAC128 mice through HD symptomatic phases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2017.09.009DOI Listing
January 2018

Transcription factor NRF2 controls the fate of neural stem cells in the subgranular zone of the hippocampus.

Redox Biol 2017 10 27;13:393-401. Epub 2017 Jun 27.

Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas "Alberto Sols", Faculty of Medicine, Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red sobre Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED), Madrid, Spain. Electronic address:

Neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) located at the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the hippocampus participate in the maintenance of synaptic networks that ensure cognitive functions during life. Although it is known that this neurogenic niche losses activity with oxidative stress and ageing, the molecular events involved in its regulation are largely unknown. Here, we studied the role of transcription factor Nuclear Factor-Erythroid 2-Related Factor 2 (NRF2) in the control of NSPCs destinies in the SGZ. We first describe that NRF2-knockout (Nrf2) mice exhibit impaired long term potentiation, a function that requires integrity of the SGZ, therefore suggesting a cognitive deficit that might be linked to hippocampal neurogenesis. Then, we found a reduction in NSCs from birth to adulthood that was exacerbated in Nrf2 vs. Nrf2 mice. The clonogenic and proliferative capacity of SGZ-derived NSPCs from newborn and 3-month-old Nrf2 mice was severely reduced as determined in neurosphere cultures. Nrf2-deficiency also impaired neuronal differentiation both the SGZ, and in neurosphere differentiation assays, leading to an abnormal production of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes vs. neurons. Rescue of Nrf2 NSPCs by ectopic expression of NRF2 attenuated the alterations in clonogenic, proliferative and differentiating capacity of hippocampal NSPCs. In turn, knockdown of the NRF2 gene in wild type NSPCs reproduced the data obtained with Nrf2 NSPCs. Our findings demonstrate the importance of NRF2 in the maintenance of proper proliferation and differentiation rates of hippocampal NSPCs and suggest that interventions to up-regulate NRF2 might provide a mechanism to preserve the neurogenic functionality of the hippocampus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2017.06.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5493838PMC
October 2017

Interventions for age-related diseases: Shifting the paradigm.

Mech Ageing Dev 2016 12 29;160:69-92. Epub 2016 Sep 29.

MRC Arthiritis Research UK Centre for Integrated Research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA), Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield, The Medical School, Sheffield, UK. Electronic address:

Over 60% of people aged over 65 are affected by multiple morbidities, which are more difficult to treat, generate increased healthcare costs and lead to poor quality of life compared to individual diseases. With the number of older people steadily increasing this presents a societal challenge. Age is the major risk factor for age-related diseases and recent research developments have led to the proposal that pharmacological interventions targeting common mechanisms of ageing may be able to delay the onset of multimorbidity. Here we review the state of the knowledge of multimorbidity, appraise the available evidence supporting the role of mechanisms of ageing in the development of the most common age-related diseases and assess potential molecules that may successfully target those key mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mad.2016.09.009DOI Listing
December 2016

Mitochondrial Ca handling in Huntington's and Alzheimer's diseases - Role of ER-mitochondria crosstalk.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2017 02 30;483(4):1069-1077. Epub 2016 Jul 30.

CNC-Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; FMUC-Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Electronic address:

Mitochondria play a relevant role in Ca buffering, governing energy metabolism and neuronal function. Huntington's disease (HD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) are two neurodegenerative disorders that, although clinically distinct, share pathological features linked to selective brain damage. These include mitochondrial dysfunction, intracellular Ca deregulation and mitochondrial Ca handling deficits. Both diseases are associated with misfolding and aggregation of specific proteins that physically interact with mitochondria and interfere with endoplasmic reticulum (ER)/mitochondria-contact sites. Cumulating evidences indicate that impairment of mitochondrial Ca homeostasis underlies the susceptibility to selective neuronal death observed in HD and AD; however data obtained with different models and experimental approaches are not always consistent. In this review, we explore the recent literature on deregulation of mitochondrial Ca handling underlying the interplay between mitochondria and ER in HD and AD-associated neurodegeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2016.07.122DOI Listing
February 2017

Age-dependent changes in the glutamate-nitric oxide pathway in the hippocampus of the triple transgenic model of Alzheimer's disease: implications for neurometabolic regulation.

Neurobiol Aging 2016 10 29;46:84-95. Epub 2016 Jun 29.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Electronic address:

Age-dependent changes in nitric oxide ((•)NO) concentration dynamics may play a significant role in both decaying synaptic and metabolic functions in Alzheimer's disease (AD). This neuromodulator acts presynaptically to increase vesicle release and glutamatergic transmission and also regulates mitochondrial function. Under conditions of altered intracellular redox environment, (•)NO may react and produce reactive species such as peroxynitrite. Using the triple transgenic mouse model of AD (3xTgAD), we investigated age-dependent changes in the glutamate-(•)NO axis in the hippocampus. Direct measurement of (•)NO concentration dynamics revealed a significant increase in N-methyl-D-aspartate type receptor-evoked peak (•)NO in the 3xTgAD model at an early age. Aging produced a decrease in peak (•)NO accompanied by significant decrease in production and decay rates in the transgenic model. Evaluation of energy metabolism revealed age-dependent decrease in basal oxygen consumption rate, a general decrease in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation parameters, and loss in mitochondrial sparing capacity in both genotypes. Finally, we observed age-dependent increase in 3-nitrotyrosine residues in the hippocampus, consistent with a putative shift in (•)NO bioactivity toward oxidative chemistry associated with neurotoxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2016.06.012DOI Listing
October 2016

Ataxin-3 phosphorylation decreases neuronal defects in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 models.

J Cell Biol 2016 Feb;212(4):465-80

CNC - Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra, 3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal

Different neurodegenerative diseases are caused by aberrant elongation of repeated glutamine sequences normally found in particular human proteins. Although the proteins involved are ubiquitously distributed in human tissues, toxicity targets only defined neuronal populations. Changes caused by an expanded polyglutamine protein are possibly influenced by endogenous cellular mechanisms, which may be harnessed to produce neuroprotection. Here, we show that ataxin-3, the protein involved in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3, also known as Machado-Joseph disease, causes dendritic and synapse loss in cultured neurons when expanded. We report that S12 of ataxin-3 is phosphorylated in neurons and that mutating this residue so as to mimic a constitutive phosphorylated state counters the neuromorphologic defects observed. In rats stereotaxically injected with expanded ataxin-3-encoding lentiviral vectors, mutation of serine 12 reduces aggregation, neuronal loss, and synapse loss. Our results suggest that S12 plays a role in the pathogenic pathways mediated by polyglutamine-expanded ataxin-3 and that phosphorylation of this residue protects against toxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201506025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754714PMC
February 2016

Aβ and NMDAR activation cause mitochondrial dysfunction involving ER calcium release.

Neurobiol Aging 2015 Feb 6;36(2):680-92. Epub 2014 Sep 6.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Institute for Interdisciplinary Research of the University of Coimbra (IIIUC), Coimbra, Portugal; Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Electronic address:

Early cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease (AD) seem to be correlated to dysregulation of glutamate receptors evoked by amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptide. Aβ interference with the activity of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) may be a relevant factor for Aβ-induced mitochondrial toxicity and neuronal dysfunction. To evaluate the role of mitochondria in NMDARs activation mediated by Aβ, we followed in situ single-cell simultaneous measurement of cytosolic free Ca(2+)(Cai(2+)) and mitochondrial membrane potential in primary cortical neurons. Our results show that direct exposure to Aβ + NMDA largely increased Cai(2+) and induced immediate mitochondrial depolarization, compared with Aβ or NMDA alone. Mitochondrial depolarization induced by rotenone strongly inhibited the rise in Cai(2+) evoked by Aβ or NMDA, suggesting that mitochondria control Ca(2+) entry through NMDARs. However, incubation with rotenone did not preclude mitochondrial Ca(2+) (mitCa(2+)) retention in cells treated with Aβ. Aβ-induced Cai(2+) and mitCa(2+) rise were inhibited by ifenprodil, an antagonist of GluN2B-containing NMDARs. Exposure to Aβ + NMDA further evoked a higher mitCa(2+) retention, which was ameliorated in GluN2B(-/-) cortical neurons, largely implicating the involvement of this NMDAR subunit. Moreover, pharmacologic inhibition of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) inositol-1,4,5-triphosphate receptor (IP3R) and mitCa(2+) uniporter (MCU) evidenced that Aβ + NMDA-induced mitCa(2+) rise involves ER Ca(2+) release through IP3R and mitochondrial entry by the MCU. Altogether, data highlight mitCa(2+) dyshomeostasis and subsequent dysfunction as mechanisms relevant for early neuronal dysfunction in AD linked to Aβ-mediated GluN2B-composed NMDARs activation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.09.006DOI Listing
February 2015

Cardiolipin profile changes are associated to the early synaptic mitochondrial dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease.

J Alzheimers Dis 2015 ;43(4):1375-92

Chemistry Center - Vila Real (CQ-VR), Chemistry Department, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, UTAD, Vila Real, Portugal.

Brain mitochondria are fundamental to maintaining healthy functional brains, and their dysfunction is involved in age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this study, we conducted a research on how both non-synaptic and synaptic mitochondrial functions are compromised at an early stage of AD-like pathologies and their correlation with putative changes on membranes lipid profile, using 3 month-old nontransgenic and 3xTg-AD mice, a murine model of experimental AD. Bioenergetic dysfunction in 3xTg-AD brains is evidenced by a decrease of brain ATP levels resulting, essentially, from synaptic mitochondria functionality disruption as indicated by declined respiratory control ratio associated with a 50% decreased complex I activity. Lipidomics studies revealed that synaptic bioenergetic deficit of 3xTg-AD brains is accompanied by alterations in the phospholipid composition of synaptic mitochondrial membranes, detected either in phospholipid class distribution or in the phospholipids molecular profile. Globally, diacyl- and lyso-phosphatidylcholine lipids increase while ethanolamine plasmalogens and cardiolipins content drops in relation to nontransgenic background. However, the main lipidomic mark of 3xTg-AD brains is that cardiolipin cluster-organized profile is lost in synaptic mitochondria due to a decline of the most representative molecular species. In contrast to synaptic mitochondria, results support the idea that non-synaptic mitochondria function is preserved at the age of 3 months. Although the genetically construed 3xTg-AD mouse model does not represent the most prevalent form of AD in humans, the present study provides insights into the earliest biochemical events in AD brain, connecting specific lipidomic changes with synaptic bioenergetic deficit that may contribute to the progressive synapses loss and the neurodegenerative process that characterizes AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-141002DOI Listing
August 2015

Impaired Src signaling and post-synaptic actin polymerization in Alzheimer's disease mice hippocampus--linking NMDA receptors and the reelin pathway.

Exp Neurol 2014 Nov 13;261:698-709. Epub 2014 Aug 13.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Institute for Interdisciplinary Research (IIIUC), University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Electronic address:

Early cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been related to deregulation of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) and synaptic dysfunction in response to amyloid-beta peptide. NMDAR anchorage to post-synaptic membrane depends in part on Src kinase, which is also implicated in NMDAR activation and actin cytoskeleton stabilization, two processes relevant for normal synaptic function. In this study we analyzed the changes in GluN2B subunit phosphorylation and the levels of proteins involved in Src related signaling pathways linking the Tyr kinase to actin cytoskeleton polymerization, namely reelin, disabled-1 (Dab1) and cortactin, in hippocampal and cortical homogenates obtained from the triple transgenic mouse model of AD (3xTg-AD) that shows progression of pathology as a function of age versus age-matched wild-type mice. Moreover, we evaluated regional post-synaptic actin polymerization using phalloidin labeling in hippocampal slices. Young (3month-old) 3xTg-AD male mice hippocampus exhibited decreased GluN2B Tyr1472 phosphorylation and reduced Src activity. In the cortex, decreased Src activity correlated with reduced levels of reelin and Dab1, implicating changes in the reelin pathway. We also observed diminished phosphorylated Dab1 and cortactin protein levels in the hippocampus and cortex of young 3xTg-AD male mice. Concordantly with the recognized role of these proteins in actin stabilization, we detected a significant decrease in post-synaptic F-actin in 3month-old 3xTg-AD male CA1 and CA3 hippocampal regions. These data suggest deregulated Src-dependent signaling pathways involving GluN2B-composed NMDARs and post-synaptic actin cytoskeleton depolymerization in the hippocampus in early stages of AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2014.07.023DOI Listing
November 2014

Activation of the endoplasmic reticulum stress response by the amyloid-beta 1-40 peptide in brain endothelial cells.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2013 Dec 28;1832(12):2191-203. Epub 2013 Aug 28.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Largo Marquês de Pombal, 3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal; Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra, Apartado 3046, 3001-401 Coimbra, Portugal.

Neurovascular dysfunction arising from endothelial cell damage is an early pathogenic event that contributes to the neurodegenerative process occurring in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Since the mechanisms underlying endothelial dysfunction are not fully elucidated, this study was aimed to explore the hypothesis that brain endothelial cell death is induced upon the sustained activation of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response by amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptide, which deposits in the cerebral vessels in many AD patients and transgenic mice. Incubation of rat brain endothelial cells (RBE4 cell line) with Aβ1-40 increased the levels of several markers of ER stress-induced unfolded protein response (UPR), in a time-dependent manner, and affected the Ca(2+) homeostasis due to the release of Ca(2+) from this intracellular store. Finally, Aβ1-40 was shown to activate both mitochondria-dependent and -independent apoptotic cell death pathways. Enhanced release of cytochrome c from mitochondria and activation of the downstream caspase-9 were observed in cells treated with Aβ1-40 concomitantly with caspase-12 activation. Furthermore, Aβ1-40 activated the apoptosis effectors' caspase-3 and promoted the translocation of apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) to the nucleus demonstrating the involvement of caspase-dependent and -independent mechanisms during Aβ-induced endothelial cell death. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that ER stress plays a significant role in Aβ1-40-induced apoptotic cell death in brain endothelial cells suggesting that ER stress-targeted therapeutic strategies might be useful in AD to counteract vascular defects and ultimately neurodegeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2013.08.007DOI Listing
December 2013

Effect of α-synuclein on amyloid β-induced toxicity: relevance to Lewy body variant of Alzheimer disease.

Neurochem Res 2013 Apr 7;38(4):797-806. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Largo Marquês de Pombal, 3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal.

Alzheimer's disease, the most prevalent age-related neurodegenerative disease, is characterized by the presence of extracellular senile plaques composed of amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptide and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles. More than 50 % of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients also exhibit abundant accumulation of α-synuclein (α-Syn)-positive Lewy bodies. This Lewy body variant of AD (LBV-AD) is associated with accelerated cognitive dysfunction and progresses more rapidly than pure AD. In addition, it has been suggested that Aβ and α-Syn can directly interact. In this study we investigated the effect of α-Syn on Aβ-induced toxicity in cortical neurons. In order to mimic the intracellular accumulation of α-Syn observed in the brain of LBV-AD patients, we used valproic acid (VPA) to increase its endogenous expression levels. The release of α-Syn from damaged presynaptic terminals that occurs during the course of the disease was simulated by challenging cells with recombinant α-Syn. Our results showed that either VPA-induced α-Syn upregulation or addition of recombinant α-Syn protect primary cortical neurons from soluble Aβ1-42 decreasing the caspase-3-mediated cell death. It was also found that neuroprotection against Aβ-induced toxicity mediated by α-Syn overexpression involves the PI3K/Akt cell survival pathway. Furthermore, recombinant α-Syn was shown to directly interact with Aβ1-42 and to decrease the levels of Aβ1-42 oligomers, which might explain its neuroprotective effect. In conclusion, we demonstrate that either endogenous or exogenous α-Syn can be neuroprotective against Aβ-induced cell death, suggesting a cell defence mechanism during the initial stages of the mixed pathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11064-013-0982-7DOI Listing
April 2013

Inhibition of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase potentiates Aβ-induced ER stress and cell death in cortical neurons.

Mol Cell Neurosci 2013 Jan 28;52:1-8. Epub 2012 Sep 28.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Portugal.

Previously we reported that amyloid-β (Aβ) leads to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in cultured cortical neurons and that ER-mitochondria Ca(2+) transfer is involved in Aβ-induced apoptotic neuronal cell death. In cybrid cells which recreate the defect in mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase (COX) activity observed in platelets from Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients, we have shown that mitochondrial dysfunction affects the ER stress response triggered by Aβ. Here, we further investigated the impact of COX inhibition on Aβ-induced ER dysfunction using a neuronal model. Primary cultures of cortical neurons were challenged with toxic concentrations of Aβ upon chemical inhibition of COX with potassium cyanide (KCN). ER Ca(2+) homeostasis was evaluated under these conditions, together with the levels of ER stress markers, namely the chaperone GRP78 and XBP-1, a mediator of the ER unfolded protein response (UPR). We demonstrated that COX inhibition potentiates the Aβ-induced depletion of ER Ca(2+) content. KCN pre-treatment was also shown to enhance the rise of cytosolic Ca(2+) levels triggered by Aβ and thapsigargin, a widely used ER stressor. This effect was reverted in the presence of dantrolene, an inhibitor of ER Ca(2+) release through ryanodine receptors. Similarly, the increase in GRP78 and XBP-1 protein levels was shown to be higher in neurons treated with Aβ or thapsigargin in the presence of KCN in comparison with levels determined in neurons treated with the neurotoxins alone. Although the decrease in cell survival, the activation of caspase-9- and -3-mediated apoptotic cell death observed in Aβ- and thapsigargin-treated neurons were also potentiated by KCN, this effect is less pronounced than that observed in Ca(2+) signalling and UPR. Furthermore, in neurons treated with Aβ, the potentiating effect of the COX inhibitor in cell survival and death was not prevented by dantrolene. These results show that inhibition of mitochondrial COX activity potentiates Aβ-induced ER dysfunction and, to a less extent, neuronal cell death. Furthermore, data supports that the effect of impaired COX on Aβ-induced cell death occurs independently of Ca(2+) release through ER ryanodine receptors. Together, our data demonstrate that mitochondria dysfunction in AD enhances the neuronal susceptibility to toxic insults, namely to Aβ-induced ER stress, and strongly suggest that the close communication between ER and mitochondria can be a valuable future therapeutic target in AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mcn.2012.09.005DOI Listing
January 2013

Endoplasmic reticulum stress: a new playER in tauopathies.

J Pathol 2012 Apr 2;226(5):687-92. Epub 2012 Feb 2.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Portugal.

The accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) activates the unfolded protein response (UPR), which involves a set of protein signalling pathways and transcription factors that re-establish homeostasis and normal ER function, adapting cells to ER stress. If this adaptive response is insufficient, the UPR triggers an apoptotic program to eliminate irreversibly damaged cells. Recent observations suggest that ER stress plays an important role in the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, which is characterized by the deposition of amyloid-beta (Aβ) and hyperphosphorylated tau in susceptible brain regions. Moreover, several studies demonstrate that Aβ induces UPR activation, which in turn promotes tau phosphorylation. In the study by Nijholt and colleagues, reported in the current issue of The Journal of Pathology, the association between UPR activation and tau pathology was investigated in the brain of patients diagnosed with sporadic or familial tauopathies in which Abeta deposits are absent. The authors described that increased levels of UPR activation markers are predominantly observed in neurons within the hippocampus, being correlated with early tau phosphorylation. These findings suggest that UPR activation, which occurs in an Abeta-independent manner, is an early event during tau pathology and point to a functional crosstalk between these molecular mechanisms in tauopathies. A better understanding of UPR activation in tauopathies can thus contribute to the design of new therapeutic strategies with the purpose of promoting neuronal cell survival in these disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/path.3977DOI Listing
April 2012

Amyloid β-induced ER stress is enhanced under mitochondrial dysfunction conditions.

Neurobiol Aging 2012 Apr 25;33(4):824.e5-16. Epub 2011 Jun 25.

Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

Previously we reported that endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-mitochondria crosstalk is involved in amyloid-β (Aβ)-induced apoptosis. Now we show that mitochondrial dysfunction affects the ER stress response triggered by Aβ using cybrids that recreate the defect in mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase (COX) activity detected in platelets from Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. AD and control cybrids were treated with Aβ or classical ER stressors and the ER stress-mediated apoptotic cell death pathway was accessed. Upon treatment, we found increased glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) levels and caspase-4 activation (ER stress markers) which were more pronounced in AD cybrids. Treated AD cybrids also exhibited decreased cell survival as well as increased caspase-3-like activity, poli-ADP-ribose-polymerase (PARP) levels and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL)-positive apoptotic cells. Finally, we showed that Aβ-induced caspase-3 activation in both cybrid cell lines was prevented by dantrolene, thus implicating ER Ca(2+) release in ER stress-mediated apoptosis. Our results demonstrate that mitochondrial dysfunction occurring in AD patients due to COX inhibition potentiates cell susceptibility to Aβ-induced ER stress. This study further supports the close communication between ER and mitochondria during apoptosis in AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.04.011DOI Listing
April 2012

ER stress-mediated apoptotic pathway induced by Abeta peptide requires the presence of functional mitochondria.

J Alzheimers Dis 2010 ;20(2):625-36

Faculty of Medicine, Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, 3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal.

Amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptide plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Previously we found that Abeta induces both mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) dysfunction leading to apoptosis, and now we address the relevance of ER-mitochondria crosstalk in apoptotic cell death triggered by Abeta peptide. Using mitochondrial DNA-depleted rho0 cells derived from the human NT2 teratocarcinoma cell line, characterized by the absence of functional mitochondria, and the parental rho+ cells, we report here that treatment with the synthetic Abeta1-40 peptide, or the classical ER stressors thapsigargin or brefeldin A, increases GRP78 expression levels and caspase activity, two ER stress markers, and also depletes ER calcium stores. Significantly, we show that the presence of functional mitochondria is required for ER stress-mediated apoptotic cell death triggered by toxic insults such as Abeta. We found that the increase in the levels of the pro-apoptotic transcription factor GADD153/CHOP, which mediates ER stress-induced cell death, as well as caspase-9 and -3 activation and increased number of TUNEL-positive cells, occurs in treated parental rho+ cells but is abolished in rho0 cells. Our results strongly support the close communication between ER and mitochondria during apoptotic cell death induced by the Abeta peptide and provide insights into the molecular cascade of cell death in AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-2010-091369DOI Listing
September 2010

The release of calcium from the endoplasmic reticulum induced by amyloid-beta and prion peptides activates the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway.

Neurobiol Dis 2008 Jun 20;30(3):331-342. Epub 2008 Feb 20.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal. Electronic address:

In this study, we analyzed whether ER Ca2+ release, induced by amyloid-beta (Abeta) and prion (PrP) peptides activates the mitochondrial-mediated apoptotic pathway. In cortical neurons, addition of the synthetic Abeta1-40 or PrP106-126 peptides depletes ER Ca2+ content, leading to cytosolic Ca2+ overload. The Ca2+ released through ryanodine (RyR) and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3R) receptors was shown to be involved in the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, Bax translocation to mitochondria and apoptotic death. Our data further demonstrate that Ca2+ released from the ER leads to the depletion of endogenous GSH levels and accumulation of reactive oxygen species, which were also involved in the depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane. These results illustrate that the early Abeta- and PrP -induced perturbation of ER Ca2+ homeostasis affects mitochondrial function, activating the mitochondrial-mediated apoptotic pathway and help to clarify the mechanism implicated in neuronal death that occurs in AD and PrD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nbd.2008.02.003DOI Listing
June 2008

ER stress is involved in Abeta-induced GSK-3beta activation and tau phosphorylation.

J Neurosci Res 2008 Jul;86(9):2091-9

Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

Intracellular neurofibrillary tangles, one of the characteristic hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD), are mainly composed of hyperphosphorylated tau. The abnormal tau phosphorylation seems to be related to altered activity of kinases such as glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK-3beta). Tau pathology is thought to be a later event during the progression of the disease, and it seems to occur as a consequence of amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptide accumulation. The aim of this work was to investigate whether soluble Abeta1-42, particularly oligomers that correspond to the neurotoxic species involved early in the development of AD, triggers tau phosphorylation by a mechanism involving activation of tau-kinase GSK-3beta. Several studies suggest that GSK-3beta plays a central role in signaling the downstream effects of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Therefore, the involvement of ER Ca(2+) release in GSK-3beta activation and tau phosphorylation induced by Abeta1-42 oligomers was evaluated using dantrolene, an inhibitor of Ca(2+) release through channels associated with ER ryanodine receptors. We observed that Abeta1-42 oligomers increase tau phosphorylation and compromises cell survival through a mechanism mediated by GSK-3beta activation. We also demonstrated that oligomeric Abeta1-42 induces ER stress and that ER Ca(2+) release is involved in oligomer-induced GSK-3beta activation and tau phosphorylation. This work suggests that GSK-3beta can be a promising target for therapeutic intervention in AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jnr.21648DOI Listing
July 2008

Bcl-2 overexpression protects against amyloid-beta and prion toxicity in GT1-7 neural cells.

J Alzheimers Dis 2007 Nov;12(3):223-8

Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

In this study we analysed the effect of Bcl-2 on the cytotoxicity induced by the amyloid-beta (Abeta(25-35)) and prion (PrP(106-126)) peptides by using GT1-7puro and GT1-7bcl-2 (overexpressing the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2) neural cells. Exposure to Abeta(25-35) (1-5 microM) and PrP(106-126) (25 microM) caused a decrease in cell viability, as determined by the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. These data were correlated with Abeta(25-35) and PrP(106-126)-induced activation of caspase-9, which is linked to the mitochondrial death pathway, and the activation of the effector caspase-3, suggesting cell death by apoptosis. Furthermore, Bcl-2 overexpression protected from loss of cell viability and caspase-9 and -3 activation induced by Abeta(25-35) and PrP(106-126), showing that Bcl-2 is neuroprotective against apoptotic cell death caused by amyloidogenic peptides.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/jad-2007-12303DOI Listing
November 2007

Involvement of mitochondria in endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced apoptotic cell death pathway triggered by the prion peptide PrP(106-126).

J Neurochem 2008 Feb 6;104(3):766-76. Epub 2007 Nov 6.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

Prion disorders are progressive neurodegenerative diseases characterized by extensive neuronal loss and by the accumulation of the pathogenic form of prion protein, designated PrP(Sc). Recently, we have shown that PrP(106-126) induces endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, leading to mitochondrial cytochrome c release, caspase 3 activation and apoptotic death. In order to further clarify the role of mitochondria in ER stress-mediated apoptotic pathway triggered by the PrP peptide, we investigated the effects of PrP(106-126) on the Ntera2 human teratocarcinoma cell line that had been depleted of their mitochondrial DNA, termed NT2 rho0 cells, characterized by the absence of functional mitochondria, as well as on the parental NT2 rho+ cells. In this study, we show that PrP(106-126) induces ER stress in both cell lines, given that ER Ca2+ content is low, glucose-regulated protein 78 levels are increased and caspase 4 is activated. Furthermore, in parental NT2 rho+ cells, PrP(106-126)-activated caspase 9 and 3, induced poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and increased the number of apoptotic cells. Dantrolene was shown to protect NT2 rho+ from PrP(106-126)-induced cell death, demonstrating the involvement of Ca2+ release through ER ryanodine receptors. However, in PrP(106-126)-treated NT2 rho0 cells, apoptosis was not able to proceed. These results demonstrate that functional mitochondria are required for cell death as a result of ER stress triggered by the PrP peptide, and further elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in the neuronal loss that occurs in prion disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2007.05048.xDOI Listing
February 2008

An endoplasmic-reticulum-specific apoptotic pathway is involved in prion and amyloid-beta peptides neurotoxicity.

Neurobiol Dis 2006 Sep 17;23(3):669-78. Epub 2006 Jul 17.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of Coimbra, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal.

Prion (PrP) and amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides are involved in the neuronal loss that occurs in Prion disorders (PrD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD), respectively, partially due to Ca(2+) dysregulation. Besides, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has an active role in the neurotoxic mechanisms that lead to these pathologies. Here, we analyzed whether the ER-mediated apoptotic pathway is involved in the toxic effect of synthetic PrP and Abeta peptides. In PrP106-126- and Abeta1-40-treated cortical neurons, the release of Ca(2+) through ER ryanodine (RyR) and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3)R) receptors induces ER stress and leads to increased cytosolic Ca(2+) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and subsequently to apoptotic death involving mitochondrial cytochrome c release and caspases activation. These results demonstrate that the early PrP- and Abeta-induced perturbation of ER Ca(2+) homeostasis is a death message that leads to neuronal loss, suggesting that the regulation of ER Ca(2+) levels may be a potential therapeutical target for PrD and AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nbd.2006.05.011DOI Listing
September 2006

Involvement of endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release through ryanodine and inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptors in the neurotoxic effects induced by the amyloid-beta peptide.

J Neurosci Res 2004 Jun;76(6):872-80

Center for Neuroscience and Cellular Biology of Coimbra, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

Studies with in-vitro-cultured neurons treated with amyloid-beta (A beta) peptides demonstrated neuronal loss by apoptosis that is due, at least in part, to the perturbation of intracellular Ca(2+) homeostasis. In addition, it was shown that an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-specific apoptotic pathway mediated by caspase-12, which is activated upon the perturbation of ER Ca(2+) homeostasis, may contribute to A beta toxicity. To elucidate the involvement of deregulation of ER Ca(2+) homeostasis in neuronal death induced by A beta peptides, we have performed a comparative study using the synthetic peptides A beta(25-35) or A beta(1-40) and thapsigargin, a selective inhibitor of Ca(2+) uptake into the ER. Incubation of cortical neurons with thapsigargin (2.5 microM) increased the intracellular Ca(2+) levels and activated caspase-3, leading to a significant increase in the number of apoptotic cells. Similarly, upon incubation of cortical cultures with the A beta peptides (A beta(25-35), 25 microM; A beta(1-40), 0.5 microM), we observed a significant increase in [Ca(2+)](i), in caspase-3-like activity, and in number of neurons exhibiting apoptotic morphology. The role of ER Ca(2+) release through ryanodine receptors (RyR) or inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP(3)R) in A beta neurotoxicity has been also investigated. Dantrolene and xestospongin C, inhibitors of ER Ca(2+) release through RyR or IP(3)R, were able to prevent the increase in [Ca(2+)](i) and the activation of caspase-3 and to protect partially against apoptosis induced by treatment with A beta(25-35) or A beta(1-40). In conclusion, our results demonstrate that the release of Ca(2+) from the ER, mediated by both RyR and IP(3)R, is involved in A beta toxicity and can contribute, together with the activation of other intracellular neurotoxic mechanisms, to A beta-induced neuronal death. This study suggests that A beta accumulation may have a key role in the pathogenesis of AD as a result of deregulation of ER Ca(2+) homeostasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jnr.20135DOI Listing
June 2004

Cell degeneration induced by amyloid-beta peptides: implications for Alzheimer's disease.

J Mol Neurosci 2004 ;23(1-2):97-104

Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Center for Neurosciences and Cellular Biology of Coimbra, University of Coimbra, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal.

Extracellular accumulation of amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptide and death of neurons in brain regions involved in learning and memory, particularly the cortex and the hippocampus, are central features of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Neuronal Ca2+ overload and apoptosis are known to occur in AD. Abeta might play a role in disrupting Ca2+ homeostasis, and this AD-associated amyloidogenic peptide has been reported to induce apoptotic death in cultured cells. However, the specific intracellular signaling pathways by which Abeta triggers cell death are not yet well defined. This article provides evidence for the involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction in Abeta-induced toxicity and for the role of mitochondria in apoptosis triggered by Abeta. In addition, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) seems to play a role in Abeta-induced apoptotic neuronal death, the ER stress being mediated by the perturbation of ER Ca2+ homeostasis. It is likely that a better understanding of how Abeta induces neuronal apoptosis will lead to the identification of potential molecular targets for the development of therapies for AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1385/JMN:23:1-2:097DOI Listing
September 2004