Unbiased high-content screening reveals Aβ- And tau-independent synaptotoxic activities in human brain homogenates from Alzheimer's patients and high-pathology controls

Hao Jiang, Thomas J. Esparza, Terrance T. Kummer, David L. Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is tightly correlated with synapse loss in vulnerable brain regions. It is assumed that specific molecular entities such as Aβ and tau cause synapse loss in AD, yet unbiased screens for synaptotoxic activities have not been performed. Here, we performed size exclusion chromatography on soluble human brain homogenates from AD cases, high pathology non-demented controls, and low pathology age-matched controls using our novel high content primary cultured neuron-based screening assay. Both presynaptic and postsynaptic toxicities were elevated in homogenates from AD cases and high pathology non-demented controls to a similar extent, with more modest synaptotoxic activities in homogenates from low pathology normal controls. Surprisingly, synaptotoxic activities were found in size fractions peaking between the 17-44 kDa size standards that did not match well with Aβ and tau immunoreactive species in these homogenates. The fractions containing previously identified high molecular weight soluble amyloid beta aggregates/ "oligomers"were non-toxic in this assay. Furthermore, immunodepletion of Aβ and tau did not reduce synaptotoxic activity. This result contrasts with previous findings involving the same methods applied to 3xTg-AD mouse brain extracts. The nature of the synaptotoxic species has not been identified. Overall, our data indicates one or more potential Aβ and tau independent synaptotoxic activities in human AD brain homogenates. This result aligns well with the key role of synaptic loss in the early cognitive decline and may provide new insight into AD pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0259335
JournalPloS one
Volume16
Issue number11 November
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

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