Characterization and Molecular Profiling of PSEN1 Familial Alzheimer’s Disease iPSC-Derived Neural Progenitors

Presenilin 1 (PSEN1) encodes the catalytic subunit of γ-secretase, and PSEN1 mutations are the most common cause of early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD). In order to elucidate pathways downstream of PSEN1, we characterized neural progenitor cells (NPCs) derived from FAD mutant PSEN1 subjects. Thus, we generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from affected and unaffected individuals from two families carrying PSEN1 mutations. PSEN1 mutant fibroblasts, and NPCs produced greater ratios of Aβ42 to Aβ40 relative to their control counterparts, with the elevated ratio even more apparent in PSEN1 NPCs than in fibroblasts. Molecular profiling identified 14 genes differentially-regulated in PSEN1 NPCs relative to control NPCs. Five of these targets showed differential expression in late onset AD/Intermediate AD pathology brains. Therefore, in our PSEN1 iPSC model, we have reconstituted an essential feature in the molecular pathogenesis of FAD, increased generation of Aβ42/40, and have characterized novel expression changes. [Read more…]

Evaluating Alzheimer’s Disease Progression Using Rate of Regional Hippocampal Atrophy

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by neurofibrillary tangle and neuropil thread deposition, which ultimately results in neuronal loss. A large number of magnetic resonance imaging studies have reported a smaller hippocampus in AD patients as compared to healthy elderlies. Even though this difference is often interpreted as atrophy, it is only an indirect measurement. A more direct way of measuring the atrophy is to use repeated MRIs within the same individual. Even though several groups have used this appropriate approach, the pattern of hippocampal atrophy still remains unclear and difficult to relate to underlying pathophysiology. Here, in this longitudinal study, we aimed to map hippocampal atrophy rates in patients with AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and elderly controls. [Read more…]

De Novo Mutations in Ataxin-2 Gene and ALS Risk

Pathogenic CAG repeat expansion in the ataxin-2 gene (ATXN2) is the genetic cause of spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2). Recently, it has been associated with Parkinsonism and increased genetic risk for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here we report the association of de novo mutations in ATXN2 with autosomal dominant ALS. These findings support our previous conjectures based on population studies on the role of large normal ATXN2 alleles as the source for new mutations being involved in neurodegenerative pathologies associated with CAG expansions. The de novo mutations expanded from ALS/SCA2 non-risk alleles as proven by meta-analysis method. The ALS risk was associated with SCA2 alleles as well as with intermediate CAG lengths in the ATXN2. Higher risk for ALS was associated with pathogenic CAG repeat as revealed by meta-analysis. [Read more…]

Olfactory Training in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease


Decrease of olfactory function in Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a well-investigated fact. Studies indicate that pharmacological treatment of PD fails to restore olfactory function in PD patients. The aim of this investigation was whether patients with PD would benefit from “training” with odors in terms of an improvement of their general olfactory function. It has been hypothesized that olfactory training should produce both an improved sensitivity towards the odors used in the training process and an overall increase of olfactory function. [Read more…]

Genetic Ablation of Nrf2/Antioxidant Response Pathway in Alexander Disease Mice Reduces Hippocampal Gliosis but Does Not Impact Survival

In Alexander disease (AxD) the presence of mutant glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), the major intermediate filament of astrocytes, triggers protein aggregation, with marked induction of a stress response mediated by the transcription factor, Nrf2. To clarify the role of Nrf2 in AxD, we have crossed Gfap mutant and transgenic mouse models into an Nrf2 null background. Deletion of Nrf2 eliminates the phase II stress response normally present in mouse models of AxD, but causes no change in body weight or lifespan, even in a severe lethal model. AxD astrocytes without Nrf2 retain features of reactivity, such as expression of the endothelin-B receptor, but have lower Gfap levels, a decrease in p62 protein and reduced iron accumulation, particularly in hippocampus. Microglial activation, indicated by Iba1 expression, is also diminished.
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