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- Mechanistic impact of the Swedish app-mutation and caspase-3 cleaved c-terminal presenilin fragment in the neurotoxic effects of beta-amyloid (2004)
- Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder world wide, causing presenile dementia and death of millions of people. During AD damage and massive loss of brain cells occur. Alzheimer’s disease is genetically heterogeneous and may therefore represent a common phenotype that results from various genetic and environmental influences and risk factors. In approximately 10% of patients, changes of the genetic information were detected (gene mutations). In these cases, Alzheimer’s disease is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait (familial Alzheimer’s disease, FAD). In rare cases of familial Alzheimer’s disease (about 1-3%), mutations have been detected in genes on chromosomes 14 and 1 (encoding for Presenilin 1 and 2, respectively), and on chromosome 21 encoding for the amyloid precursor protein (APP), which is responsible for the release of the cell-damaging protein amyloid-beta (ß-amyloid, Aß). Familial forms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease are rare; however, their importance extends far beyond their frequency, because they allow to identify some of the critical pathogenetic pathways of the disease. All familial Alzheimer mutations share a common feature: they lead to an enhanced production of the Aß, which is the major constituent of senile plaques in brains of AD patients. New data indicates that Aß promotes neuronal degeneration. Therefore, one aim of these thesis was to elucidate the neurotoxic biochemical pathways induced by Aß, investigating the effect of the FAD Swedish APP double mutation (APPsw) on oxidative stress-induced cell death mechanisms. This mutation results in a three- to sixfold increased Aß production compared to wild-type APP (APPwt). As cell models, the neuronal PC12 (rat pheochromocytoma) and the HEK (human embryonic kidney 293) cell lines were used, which have been transfected with human wiltyp APP or human APP containing the Swedish double mutation. The used cell models offer two important advantages. First, compared to experiments using high concentrations of Aß at micromolar levels applied extracellularly to cells, PC12 APPsw cells secret low Aß levels similar to the situation in FAD brains. Thus, this cell model represents a very suitable approach to elucidate the AD-specific cell death pathways mimicking physiological conditions. Second, these two cell lines (PC12 and HEK APPwt and APPsw) with different production levels of Aß may additionally allow to study dose-dependent effects of Aß. The here obtained results provide evidence for the enhanced cell vulnerability caused by the Swedish APP mutation and elucidate the cell death mechanism probably initiated by intracellulary produced Aß. Here it seems likely that increased production of Aß at physiological levels primes APPsw PC12 cells to undergo cell death only after additional stress, while chronic high levels in HEK cells already lead to enhanced basal apoptotic levels. Crucial effects of the Swedish APP mutation include the impairments of cellular energy metabolism affecting mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP levels as well as the additional activation of caspase 2, caspase 8 and JNK in response to oxidative stress. Thereby ,the following model can be proposed: PC12 cells harboring the Swedish APP mutation have a reduced energy metabolism compared to APPwt or control cells. However, this effect does not leads to enhanced basal apoptotic levels of cultured cells. An exposure of PC12 cells to oxidative stress leads to mitochondrial dysfunction, e.g., decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and depletion in ATP. The consequence is the activation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway releasing cytochrome c and Smac resulting in the activation of caspase 9. This effect is amplified by the overexpression of APP, since both APPsw and APPwt PC12 cells show enhanced cytochrome c and Smac release as well as enhanced caspase 9 activity as vector transfected control. In APPsw PC12 cells a parallel pathway is additionally emphased. Due to reduced ATP levels or enhanced Aß production JNK is activated. Furthermore, the extrinsic apoptotic pathway is enhanced, since caspase 8 and caspase 2 activation was clearly enhanced by the Swedish APP mutation. Both pathways may then converge by activating the effector enzyme, caspase 3, and the execution of cell death. In addition, caspase independent effects also needs to be considered. One possibility could be the implication of AIF since AIF expression was found to be induced by the Swedish APP mutation. In APPsw HEK cells high chronic Aß levels leads to enhanced apoptotic levels, reduce mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP levels even under basal conditions. Summarizing, a hypothetical sequence of events is proposed linking FAD, Aß production, JNK-activation, mitochondrial dysfunction with caspase pathway and neuronal loss for our cell model. The brain has a high metabolic rate and is exposured to gradually rising levels of oxidative stress during life. In Swedish FAD patients the levels of oxidative stress are increased in the temporal inferior cortex. This study using a cell model mimicking the in vivo situation in AD brains indicates that probably both, increased Aß production and the gradual rise of oxidative stress throughout life converge at a final common pathway of an increased vulnerability of neurons to apoptotic cell death from FAD patients. Presenilin (PS) 1 is an aspartyl protease, involved in the gamma-secretase mediated proteolysis of Amyloid-ß-protein (Aß), the major constituent of senile plaques in brains of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. Recent studies have suggested an additional role for presenilin proteins in apoptotic cell death observed in AD. Since PS 1 is proteolytic cleaved by caspase 3, it has been prosposed that the resulting C-terminal fragment of PS1 (PSCas) could play a role in signal transduction during apoptosis. Moreover, it was shown that mutant presenilins causing early-onset of familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) may render cells vulnerable to apoptosis. The mechanism by which PS1 regulates apoptotic cell death is yet not understood. Therefore one aim of our present study was to clarify the involvement of PS1 in the proteolytic cascade of apoptosis and if the cleavage of PS1 by caspase 3 has an regulatory function. Here it is demonstrated that both, PS1 and PS1Cas lead to a reduced vulnerability of PC12 and Jurkat cells to different apoptotic stimuli. However a mutation at the caspase 3 recognition site (D345A/ PSmut), which inhibits cleavage of PS1 by caspase 3, show no differences in the effect of PS1 or PSCas towards apoptotic stimuli. This suggest that proteolysis of PS1 by caspase 3 is not a determinant, but only a secondary effect during apoptosis. Since several FAD mutation distributed through the whole PS1 gene lead to enhanced apoptosis, an abolishment of the antiapoptotic effect of PS1 might contribute to the massive neurodegeneration in early age of FAD patients. Here, the regulate properties of PS1 in apoptosis may not be through an caspase 3 dependent cleavage and generation of PSCas, but rather through interaction of PS1 with other proteins involved in apoptosis.
- Oxidative stress during aging and in Alzheimer's disease : a comparative study of oxidative damage and antioxidant enzymatic activities in mouse models and human brain tissue (2004)
- The hypothesis that oxidative stress plays a role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) was tested by studying oxidative damage, acitvities of antioxidant enzymes and levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in several models. To this end, mouse models transgenic for mutant presenilin (PS1M146L) as well as mutant amyloid precursor protein (APP) and human post mortem brain tissue from sporadic AD patients and age-matched controls were studied. Aging leads to an upregulation of antioxidant enzyme activities of Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn-SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and glutathione reductase (GR) in brains from C57BL/6J mice. Simultaneously, levels of lipid peroxidation products malondialdehyde MDA and 4-hydroxynonenal HNE were reduced. Additionally, pronounced gender effects were observed, as female mice display better protection against oxidative damage due to higher activity of GPx. Hence, antioxidant enzymes provide an important contribution to the protection against oxidative damage. In PS1M146L transgenic mice oxidative damage was only detectable in 19-22 months old mice, arguing for an additive effect of aging and the PS1 mutation. Both HNE levels in brain tissue as well as mitochondrial and cytosolic levels of ROS in splenic lymphocytes were increased in PS1M146L mice. Antioxidant defences were unaltered. In PDGF-APP and PDGF-APP/PS1 trangenic mice no changes in any of the parameters studied were observed in any age group. In contrast, Thy1-APP transgenic mice display oxidative damage as assessed by increased HNE levels. Reduced activity of Cu/Zn-SOD may explain this observation. Additionally, gender modified this effect, as female APP transgenic mice display higher b-secretase cleavage of APP and simultaneously increased HNE levels and reduced Cu/Zn-SOD activity earlier than male mice, i.e. from an age of 3 months and before the formation of Ab plaques. Reduced Cu/Zn-SOD activity was also found in another APP transgenic mouse model, in APP23 mice. In post mortem brain tissue from sporadic AD patients activities of Cu/Zn-SOD and GPx were however increased, and changes were most pronounced in temporal cortex. Simultaneously, levels of HNE but not MDA were elevated. Additionally, in vitro stimulation of lipid peroxidation led to increased MDA formation in samples from AD patients, indicating that increased activity of Cu/Zn-SOD and GPx are insufficient to protect against oxidative damage. Furthermore, the observed changes were subject to a gender effect, as samples from female AD patients showed increased activities of Cu/Zn-SOD and GPx as well as increased HNE levels, indicating that brain tissue from females is more sensitive towards oxidative damage. Levels of soluble Ab1-40 were positively correlated with with MDA levels and activities of Cu/Zn-SOD and GPx. Additionally, levels of lipid peroxidation products MDA and HNE are gene-dose-dependently modulated by the Apolipoprotein E4 allele, the most important genetic risk factor for AD known so far. While MDA levels were negatively correlated with MMSE scores, a measure for cognitive function, HNE levels were highest in AD patients with moderate cognitive impairment. Hence, increased HNE levels may play an important role in neurodegenerative events at an early disease stage. In summary, oxidative damage, as assessed by increased HNE levels, could be detected in sporadic AD patients and in different transgenic mouse models. The results of this thesis therefore support the further research of pharmacological targets aiming at augmentation of antioxidant defences for therapy or prophylaxis of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Mechanisms of apoptotic cell death of lymphocytes in aging and in Alzheimer's disease (2001)
- Aging and age-related diseases are becoming more and more important for our society and our health care system. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a disorder that destroys some parts of the brain and is characterized by global cognitive decline including a progressive irreversible loss of memory, orientation, and reasoning. “Healthy aging”, therefore, is one of the major aims for modern medicine. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, plays an important role for example in fetal development, as well as for learning processes. T-lymphocytes usually undergo apoptosis in order to terminate an acute inflammation. The aim of this thesis was to explore the changes in the apoptotic mechanism of peripheral lymphocytes from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients in contrast to physiological aging. The experiments were conducted with lymphocytes of healthy volunteers of different ages, AD patients and young and aged mice. Moreover, transgenic mice carrying familiar AD-related mutations were examined. The aging study of peripheral cells of ‘healthy’-aged volunteers revealed an age-related increase of basal apoptosis. In addition, spontaneous apoptosis as well as apoptosis induced by oxidative stress (ROS) or by Fas engagement were enhanced in aging. A closer look at the subcellular basis of the lymphocytes (e.g. B-, NK-, CD4+-, and CD8+-T cells) determined that all lymphocyte subsets were affected by aging. Therefore, it could be concluded that the regulation of apoptosis is generally impaired in lymphocytes of aged persons. The increased susceptibility to oxidative stress supports the ‘Free radical theory of aging’ that claims the radicals to be the cause for the aging-process. In mice an increase of basal, spontaneous and ROS-induced apoptosis was detected in T cells from the spleen, as well. An oral treatment over two weeks with the Ginkgo biloba extract EGb761 showed a clear reduction of ROS-induced apoptosis in the treated group. Interestingly, basal and spontaneous apoptosis, e.g. physiological apoptosis, were not effected by the plant extract. This is an important benefit for therapy since physiological apoptosis has a great relevance in the elimination of cancer-cells for example. In conclusion, the antidementive drug EGb761 reduces specifically ROS-induced apoptosis that a plays an important role in aging as shown in this thesis. Based on the data found in healthy aging, lymphocytes from AD patients were assessed for apoptosis. The cells show enhanced levels of basal, spontaneous, and Fas-induced apoptosis. In subsequent experiments it was demonstrated that mainly the T cells were responsible for the findings. However, the NK-cells provided an important impact as well. In concordance with AD-affected neurons, peripheral lymphocytes of AD patients show clear signs of apoptotic cell death. In addition, basal apoptosis of T cells and the CD4/CD8-ratio showed a correlation with the severity of the dementia. Therefore, it could be speculated that apoptosis is due to activation-induced cell death (AICD) that occurs in acute and chronic activation of adaptive immunity. In AD there is a chronic neuroinflammation in the CNS triggering degeneration of neural tissue. In order to explore this, the experimental model of lymphocyte’s activation was established in healthy aging first. The study included the detection of various events of lymphocyte’s activation on the basis of the T cell subsets (CD4+ and CD8+). The inducibility to mitogenic stimulation clearly decreased in both subsets in aging. In contrast, T lymphocytes from AD patients showed an enhanced activation subsequent to mitogenic stimulation compared with age-matched nondemented persons. Only proliferation of CD8+ T cells was clearly reduced in AD. This data could be clues that an increased generation of memory T cells due to chronic neuroinflammation might be evident in AD. Memory T lymphocytes show increased inducibility upon mitogenic activation. Interestingly, CD8+ memory T cells display decreased prolifertive capacity. Due to activation, cells die by apoptosis later on. It could be concluded that AD patients display an increased amount of memory T cells compared to controls. The data implicate that there could be a cross talk between inflammatory within the brain and inflammatory cells of the periphery. This is an interesting point since the brain used to be assumed as immune-privileged zone. According to the experiment, the information of the diseased brain is transferred to white blood cells. The connection of those two compartments might raise the opportunity to observe and probably to influence easily not-accessible regions like the brain. Transgenic mice carrying mutations in familiar AD-relevant genes (Amyloid-Precursor-Protein, Presenilin-1, respectively) displayed enhanced levels of apoptotic T cells from the spleen, as well. It seems that those mutated proteins influence the regulation of apoptosis. Probably, they are involved in the increased cell death of T- and NK-cells, as well. Animals overexpressing Presenilin-1 showed reduced levels of apoptotic cell death. It was demonstrated with molecuar biology tools that Presenilin-1, processed during apoptosis, has an anti-apoptotic effect.
- Molecular and cellular mechanisms of Ginkgo biloba extract [EGb 761®] in improving age-related and ß-amyloid induced neuronal dysfunctions (2009)
- The utilization of Ginkgo biloba in medicinal practice dates back to 1505 A.D. Ironically, the mechanisms of action of Ginkgo are not fully clarified till now. Nowadays, Ginkgo biloba leaf extracts are mainly indicated for mild to moderate cerebrovascular insufficiency and different forms of dementia. The fact that it is an herbal extract composed of several different components indeed adds to the intricacy of finding its mechanisms of actions. Indisputably, many scientists tried to elucidate the mechanisms of actions of Ginkgo. The first step to achieve this goal was to standardize the leaf extract. The standardized Ginkgo leaf extract contains 22-27 % flavonol glycosides, 2.8-3.4 % of ginkgolide A, B and C, as well as approximately 2.6-3.2 % bilobalide and below 5 ppm ginkgolic acids. A widespread standardized Ginkgo extract is the EGb 761, which was utilized in the current work. One of the earliest proposed mechanisms is the ability of the Ginkgo extract to act as an anti-oxidant, which could be explained by its high flavonoid contents. However, without doubt EGb 761 encompasses other characteristics which distinguish it from other herbal extracts that are also rich in flavonoids. Since free radicals and reactive oxygen species are highly associated with the mitochondrial functions, examination of the effect of EGb 761 on mitochondrial functions was lately addressed. Moreover, this was encouraged as the link between Alzheimer’s disease [AD] and the mitochondria started to emerge. Previously, our group observed mitochondrial protective actions of EGb 761 on cell culture in vitro. Furthermore, anti-apoptotic effects were previously described for EGb 761. However, only very few studies addressed the single constituents and their effect on mitochondrial functions. Flavonoids were studied in several other plant extracts and their radical scavenging activity is unquestionable, but EGb 761 has anti-apoptotic actions which may be attributed to its terpenoid fraction. Exclusively found in the Ginkgo plant, are the ginkgolides and therefore their actions are not yet fully elucidated. Moreover, those who attempted to address these constituents concentrated on one or two candidates, for example bilobalide or ginkgolide B and ignored the rest. Unfortunately, this led to incomplete results, and one couldn’t compare the relative activities of all EGb 761 components in order to state whether all the components are effective or not. ...
- The dual role of the chemokine fractalkine in platelet activation and adhesion to von Willebrand factor under physiologic flow conditions (2009)
- The aim of the study was to investigate the role of the CX3C chemokine FKN in the role of platelet adhesion. The presence of the FKN receptor CX3CR1 in platelets is demonstrated and G-protein dependent activation of platelets with soluble FKN results in the increased adhesion of platelets to collagen and fibrinogen under flow 228 and adhesion of leucocytes to firmly attached platelets 231. Whether membrane-bound FKN is capable to promote the direct adhesion of platelets in flowing blood analogue to leucocytes was completely unknown. The adhesion mechanisms of FKN in mediating the adhesion of leucocytes under flow are well characterised and represent a novel unique mechanism of leucocyte capture and firm adhesion: FKN is responsible for immediate arrest of flowing CX3CR1 expressing leucocytes without the participation of additional adhesion receptors and ligands. This is in contrast to the classical leucocyte adhesion pathways, which are multistep processes involving leucocyte arrest, rolling and subsequent cell activation prior to firm arrest. In leucocytes, the FKN – CX3CR1 axis is sufficient to allow rapid arrest of leucocytes at low shear flow conditions 67, 101, 115, 122, 261. The set of data from this study demonstrates that immobilised FKN was capable to mediate the adhesion of platelets under low shear conditions, whereas there was no interaction in the absence of shear flow. In the presence of vWf in the adhesion matrix, FKN mediated the potent increased adhesion of platelets. This was in parts due to the activation of flowing platelets via CX3CR1 and the augmented translocation of platelets on FKN via the vWf receptor GPIbα. With respect to platelet activation, the function of endothelial FKN was comparable to leucocytes: in both cell types, the FKN dependent activation is mediated by its cognate receptor CX3CR1. This is in contrast to the adhesive capacity: in leucocytes, FKN dependent adhesion is mediated by CX3CR1, whereas in platelets, the adhesive capacity was mostly mediated by the vWf receptor GPIbα with only minor contribution from CX3CR1. In platelets, activation and adhesion by FKN were mediated by two distinct receptors, whereas in leucocytes, CX3CR1 is solely responsible for FKN dependent activation and adhesion. The presented results point out to a role of platelets in early stage of atherosclerosis. The in vivo expression of both, FKN and vWf is regulated by TNF-α, which is released in early stages of inflammation. The presence of vWf and FKN in the endothelial lining of blood vessels during these conditions is sufficient to initiate the capturing and translocation of platelets on the tunica interna. The rolling of platelets on the endothelium can induce endothelial damage and inflammation of the vessel, which might advance to the generation of clinically significant atherosclerotic plaques and fibrous atheroma.
- Quantification of isoprenoids in brain tissue - cerebral regulation of FPP and GGPP in Alzheimer's Disease and aging (2010)
- Over the last years there has been an increasing interest in the involvement of the MVA-pathway and of members of the small GTPases, in the development and progression of AD. Earlier investigations mainly focused on the role of cholesterol in disease pathology. This research was supported by retrospective cohort studies, initially showing beneficial effects of the long-term intake of cholesterol lowering statins, on the incidence of the development of sporadic AD. However, in more recent literature increasing attention has been paid to the isoprenoids, FPP and GGPP, due to their crucial role in the post-translational modifications of members of the superfamily of small GTPases. In AD, these proteins were amongst others shown to be involved in mechanisms affecting APP processing, ROS generation and synaptic plasticity. A major factor impeding the clarification of the role of the MVA-pathway intermediates in these mechanisms was the lack of a sensitive and accurate method to determine FPP and GGPP levels in brain tissue. Hence, a state of the art HPLC-FLD method for the quantification of the isoprenoids FPP and GGPP in brain tissue was successfully developed. After the introduction of a double clean-up step from complex brain matrix samples and the synthesis of an appropriate IS (DNP), the method was fully validated according to the latest FDA guideline for bioanalytical method validation. Furthermore, this method was transferred to a faster and more sensitive, state of the art UHPLC-MS/MS application. Additionally, the method was shown to be applicable for mouse brain tissue and data was generated from an in vivo mouse simvastatin study and for different mouse models. According to the aims of the thesis, the current work describes for the first time absolute isoprenoid concentrations in human frontal cortex white and grey matter. Furthermore, this is the first report of isoprenoid levels in the frontal cortex of human AD brains. Further results were shown from mouse brains originating from different mouse models, including the Thy-1 APP mouse model mimicking AD pathology in terms of Aβ formation or C57Bl/6 mice at different ages. AD prevalence can be clearly correlated with increasing age. Therefore, three different generations of mice were investigated. The study demonstrated constant isoprenoid and cholesterol levels in the first half of their life followed by a significant increase of FPP and GGPP in the second half (between 12 and 24 month of age). Cholesterol levels were also elevated in the aged group, but again the effect was less pronounced than shown for the isoprenoids. These results lead to the tentative conclusion that cerebral isoprenoid levels are elevated during aging and that this accumulation is amplified during AD leading to accelerated neuronal dysfunction. In a different mouse study, using the C57Bl/6 mice, in vivo drug intervention with the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor simvastatin revealed strong inhibition of the rate limiting step of the mevalonate/isoprenoid/cholesterol pathway and resulted in the first report of significantly reduced FPP and GGPP levels in brain tissue of statin treated mice. These results open for the first time the possibility to monitor drug effects on cerebral isoprenoid levels and correlate these data with a modulation of APP processing, which was shown by our group in previous studies. Interestingly, apart from the isoprenoid reduction following statin treatment the reduction of brain cholesterol was also significant but to a lesser extent. These findings support the notion that isoprenoid levels are more susceptible to statin treatment than cholesterol levels. Furthermore, this suggests a strong cellular dependence on FPP and GGPP, as the pool seems to be easily depleted, which finally could lead to cell death. The first investigations of farnesylated Ras and geranylgeranylated Rac protein levels by means of immuno-blotting, substantiated the notion of a decreased abundance of prenylated small GTPases under statin influence as a consequence of reduced isoprenoid levels. These findings demonstrate for the first time a correlation of FPP and GGPP levels with the abundance of small GTPases. These findings together with the results from the AD study prove that isoprenoid levels are not strictly subject to the same regulation as cholesterol levels. To further understand the physiological regulation in the cell, in vitro experiments with different inhibitors of the mevalonate/isoprenoid/cholesterol pathway were conducted. These results confirmed the isoprenoid and cholesterol reducing effects of statin treatment as observed in the aforementioned in vivo mouse study. Interestingly, cholesterol synthesis inhibition targeted after FPP as the branch point, led to significantly elevated FPP levels. FTase inhibition led to significantly reduced FPP levels, whereas inhibition of the GGTase I did not show a significant change of either isoprenoid levels.