Acta Neuropathologica Communications (Jul 2020)

Phosphorylated Aβ peptides in human Down syndrome brain and different Alzheimer’s-like mouse models

  • Sathish Kumar,
  • Cynthia A. Lemere,
  • Jochen Walter

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 1
pp. 1 – 14


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Abstract The deposition of neurotoxic amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides in extracellular plaques in the brain parenchyma is one of the most prominent neuropathological features of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and considered to be closely related to the pathogenesis of this disease. A number of recent studies demonstrate the heterogeneity in the composition of Aβ deposits in AD brains, due to the occurrence of elongated, truncated and post-translationally modified Aβ peptides that have peculiar characteristics in aggregation behavior and biostability. Importantly, the detection of modified Aβ species has been explored to characterize distinct stages of AD, with phosphorylated Aβ being present in the clinical phase of AD. People with Down syndrome (DS) develop AD pathology by 40 years of age likely due to the overproduction of Aβ caused by the additional copy of the gene encoding the amyloid precursor protein on chromosome 21. In the current study, we analysed the deposition of phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated Aβ species in human DS, AD, and control brains. In addition, deposition of these Aβ species was analysed in brains of a series of established transgenic AD mouse models using phosphorylation-state specific Aβ antibodies. Significant amounts of Aβ phosphorylated at serine residue 8 (pSer8Aβ) and unmodified Aβ were detected in the brains of DS and AD cases. The brains of different transgenic mouse models with either only human mutant amyloid precursor protein (APP), or combinations of human mutant APP, Presenilin (PS), and tau transgenes showed distinct age-dependent and spatiotemporal deposition of pSer8Aβ in extracellular plaques and within the vasculature. Together, these results demonstrate the deposition of phosphorylated Aβ species in DS brains, further supporting the similarity of Aβ deposition in AD and DS. Thus, the detection of phosphorylated and other modified Aβ species could contribute to the understanding and dissection of the complexity in the age-related and spatiotemporal deposition of Aβ variants in AD and DS as well as in distinct mouse models.