Am J Pathol 2008 Mar 7;172(3):786-98. Epub 2008 Feb 7.
Experimental Genetics Group, Department Human Genetics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven-Campus Gasthuisberg ON1-06.602, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.
The hypothesis that amyloid pathology precedes and induces the tau pathology of Alzheimer's disease is experimentally supported here through the identification of GSK-3 isozymes as a major link in the signaling pathway from amyloid to tau pathology. This study compares two novel bigenic mouse models: APP-V717I x Tau-P301L mice with combined amyloid and tau pathology and GSK-3beta x Tau-P301L mice with tauopathy only. Extensive and remarkable parallels were observed between these strains including 1) aggravation of tauopathy with highly fibrillar tangles in the hippocampus and cortex; 2) prolonged survival correlated to alleviated brainstem tauopathy; 3) development of severe cognitive and behavioral defects in young adults before the onset of amyloid deposition or tauopathy; and 4) presence of pathological phospho-epitopes of tau, including the characteristic GSK-3beta motif at S396/S404. Both GSK-3 isozymes were activated in the brain of parental APP-V717I amyloid mice, even at a young age when cognitive and behavioral defects are evident but before amyloid deposition. The data indicate that amyloid induces tauopathy through activation of GSK-3 and suggest a role for the kinase in maintaining the functional integrity of adult neurons.