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Neurodegenerative Disease: From Molecular Basis to Therapy, 2nd Edition

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Neurobiology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2024 | Viewed by 12536

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Guest Editor
Department of Medical, Surgical and Neurological Sciences, University of Siena, Siena, Italy
Interests: molecular biology; neurogenetics; motor neuron diseases; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; gene variants; gene regulation
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Neurodegenerative diseases are a heterogeneous group of disorders, largely age-dependent, affecting the central nervous system and eventually leading to neurodegeneration. The prevalence of these diseases is increasing, partly due to the aging population, with a consequent growing economic burden on healthcare systems. The current treatments are mostly symptomatic, without affecting the underlying cause of disease, and have no or only slight effects on disease progression.

Recent advancements in neurobiology and neurogenetics have provided valuable insights into the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. This has paved the way for the development of molecularly targeted therapies, which are able to pause or slow the fundamental pathological processes that cause neuronal damage and consequent cognitive and motor dysfunctions. In some cases, neurodegenerative diseases are caused by genetic variants and/or cellular pathway dysregulation. Some mechanisms common to several neurodegenerative conditions have been identified, such as the presence of misfolded protein aggregates, abnormal accumulation of proteins, RNA toxicity, or translational products from the expansion of repeats within genes. As advances are made in understanding critical aspects of the underlying molecular pathophysiology, therapeutic strategies continue to evolve. Among these, gene therapy is attracting great interest due to the possibility to deliver functional genetic material to cells to correct a defective gene.

This Special Issue aims to provide an updated overview of the advancements in the research on neurodegenerative diseases, from the understanding of the molecular bases to the development of new therapies. Contributions related, but not limited to, Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, Parkinson's disease and motor neuron diseases are welcomed, including original research articles and full and mini-reviews.

Dr. Claudia Ricci
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • molecular biology
  • neurogenetics
  • pathogenesis
  • therapy
  • personalized medicine

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

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22 pages, 6472 KiB  
Article
Intranasal Administration of GRP78 Protein (HSPA5) Confers Neuroprotection in a Lactacystin-Induced Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease
by Maria B. Pazi, Daria V. Belan, Elena Y. Komarova and Irina V. Ekimova
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(7), 3951; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25073951 - 02 Apr 2024
Viewed by 600
Abstract
The accumulation of misfolded and aggregated α-synuclein can trigger endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR), leading to apoptotic cell death in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). As the major ER chaperone, glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78/BiP/HSPA5) plays a key role [...] Read more.
The accumulation of misfolded and aggregated α-synuclein can trigger endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR), leading to apoptotic cell death in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). As the major ER chaperone, glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78/BiP/HSPA5) plays a key role in UPR regulation. GRP78 overexpression can modulate the UPR, block apoptosis, and promote the survival of nigral dopamine neurons in a rat model of α-synuclein pathology. Here, we explore the therapeutic potential of intranasal exogenous GRP78 for preventing or slowing PD-like neurodegeneration in a lactacystin-induced rat model. We show that intranasally-administered GRP78 rapidly enters the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) and other afflicted brain regions. It is then internalized by neurons and microglia, preventing the development of the neurodegenerative process in the nigrostriatal system. Lactacystin-induced disturbances, such as the abnormal accumulation of phosphorylated pS129-α-synuclein and activation of the pro-apoptotic GRP78/PERK/eIF2α/CHOP/caspase-3,9 signaling pathway of the UPR, are substantially reversed upon GRP78 administration. Moreover, exogenous GRP78 inhibits both microglia activation and the production of proinflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), via the nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) signaling pathway in model animals. The neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory potential of exogenous GRP78 may inform the development of effective therapeutic agents for PD and other synucleinopathies. Full article
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14 pages, 1103 KiB  
Article
Dihydroergotamine Increases Histamine Brain Levels and Improves Memory in a Scopolamine-Induced Amnesia Model
by Maricarmen Hernández-Rodríguez, Elvia Mera Jiménez, María Inés Nicolás-Vázquez and Rene Miranda-Ruvalcaba
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(7), 3710; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25073710 - 26 Mar 2024
Viewed by 379
Abstract
The beneficial effects of increasing histamine levels on memory have acquired special interest due to their applicability to psychiatric conditions that cause memory impairments. In addition, by employing drug repurposing approaches, it was demonstrated that dihydroergotamine (DHE), an FDA drug approved to treat [...] Read more.
The beneficial effects of increasing histamine levels on memory have acquired special interest due to their applicability to psychiatric conditions that cause memory impairments. In addition, by employing drug repurposing approaches, it was demonstrated that dihydroergotamine (DHE), an FDA drug approved to treat migraines, inhibits Histamine N Methyl Transferase (HNMT), the enzyme responsible for the inactivation of histamine in the brain. For this reason, in the present work, the effect of DHE on histamine levels in the hippocampus and its effects on memory was evaluated, employing the scopolamine-induced amnesia model, the Novel Object Recognition (NOR) paradigm, and the Morris Water Maze (MWM). Furthermore, the role of histamine 1 receptor (H1R) and histamine 2 receptor (H2R) antagonists in the improvement in memory produced by DHE in the scopolamine-induced amnesia model was evaluated. Results showed that the rats that received DHE (10 mg/kg, i.p.) showed increased histamine levels in the hippocampus after 1 h of administration but not after 5 h. In behavioral assays, it was shown that DHE (1 mg/kg, i.p.) administered 20 min before the training reversed the memory impairment produced by the administration of scopolamine (2 mg/kg, i.p.) immediately after the training in the NOR paradigm and MWM. Additionally, the effects in memory produced by DHE were blocked by pre-treatment with pyrilamine (20 mg/kg, i.p.) administered 30 min before the training in the NOR paradigm and MWM. These findings allow us to demonstrate that DHE improves memory in a scopolamine-induced amnesia model through increasing histamine levels at the hippocampus due to its activity as an HNMT inhibitor. Full article
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10 pages, 1252 KiB  
Article
A Cross-Sectional Study of Protein Changes Associated with Dementia in Non-Obese Weight Matched Women with and without Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
by Alexandra E. Butler, Abu Saleh Md Moin, Thozhukat Sathyapalan and Stephen L. Atkin
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(4), 2409; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25042409 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 977
Abstract
Dysregulated Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-associated protein expression is reported in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), paralleling the expression reported in type 2 diabetes (T2D). We hypothesized, however, that these proteins would not differ between women with non-obese and non-insulin resistant PCOS compared to matched control [...] Read more.
Dysregulated Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-associated protein expression is reported in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), paralleling the expression reported in type 2 diabetes (T2D). We hypothesized, however, that these proteins would not differ between women with non-obese and non-insulin resistant PCOS compared to matched control subjects. We measured plasma amyloid-related proteins levels (Amyloid-precursor protein (APP), alpha-synuclein (SNCA), amyloid P-component (APCS), Pappalysin (PAPPA), Microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT), apolipoprotein E (apoE), apoE2, apoE3, apoE4, Serum amyloid A (SAA), Noggin (NOG) and apoA1) in weight and aged-matched non-obese PCOS (n = 24) and control (n = 24) women. Dementia-related proteins fibronectin (FN), FN1.3, FN1.4, Von Willebrand factor (VWF) and extracellular matrix protein 1 (ECM1) were also measured. Protein levels were determined by Slow Off-rate Modified Aptamer (SOMA)-scan plasma protein measurement. Only APCS differed between groups, being elevated in non-obese PCOS women (p = 0.03) relative to the non-obese control women. This differed markedly from the elevated APP, APCS, ApoE, FN, FN1.3, FN1.4 and VWF reported in obese women with PCOS. Non-obese, non-insulin resistant PCOS subjects have a lower AD-associated protein pattern risk profile versus obese insulin resistant PCOS women, and are not dissimilar to non-obese controls, indicating that lifestyle management to maintain optimal body weight could be beneficial to reduce the long-term AD-risk in women with PCOS. Full article
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15 pages, 10205 KiB  
Article
Degenerative Changes in the Claustrum and Endopiriform Nucleus after Early-Life Status Epilepticus in Rats
by Rastislav Druga, Pavel Mares, Martin Salaj and Hana Kubova
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(2), 1296; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25021296 - 20 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 765
Abstract
The aim of the present study was to analyze the location of degenerating neurons in the dorsal (insular) claustrum (DCL, VCL) and the dorsal, intermediate and ventral endopiriform nucleus (DEn, IEn, VEn) in rat pups following lithium–pilocarpine status epilepticus (SE) induced at postnatal [...] Read more.
The aim of the present study was to analyze the location of degenerating neurons in the dorsal (insular) claustrum (DCL, VCL) and the dorsal, intermediate and ventral endopiriform nucleus (DEn, IEn, VEn) in rat pups following lithium–pilocarpine status epilepticus (SE) induced at postnatal days [P]12, 15, 18, 21 and 25. The presence of Fluoro-Jade B-positive neurons was evaluated at 4, 12, 24, 48 h and 1 week later. A small number of degenerated neurons was observed in the CL, as well as in the DEn at P12 and P15. The number of degenerated neurons was increased in the CL as well as in the DEn at P18 and above and was highest at longer survival intervals. The CL at P15 and 18 contained a small or moderate number of degenerated neurons mainly close to the medial and dorsal margins also designated as DCl (“shell”) while isolated degenerated neurons were distributed in the VCl (“core”). In P21 and 25, a larger number of degenerated neurons occurred in both subdivisions of the dorsal claustrum. The majority of degenerated neurons in the endopiriform nucleus were found in the intermediate and caudal third of the DEn. A small number of degenerated neurons was dispersed in the whole extent of the DEn with prevalence to its medial margin. Our results indicate that degenerated neurons in the claustrum CL and endopiriform nucleus are distributed mainly in subdivisions originating from the ventral pallium; their distribution correlates with chemoarchitectonics of both nuclei and with their intrinsic and extrinsic connections. Full article
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12 pages, 4598 KiB  
Article
Therapeutic Effects of Aβ-Specific Regulatory T Cells in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Study in 5xFAD Mice
by Seon-Young Park, Juwon Yang, Hyejin Yang, Inhee Cho, Jae Yoon Kim and Hyunsu Bae
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(2), 783; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25020783 - 08 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1088
Abstract
The aging global population is placing an increasing burden on healthcare systems, and the social impact of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is on the rise. However, the availability of safe and effective treatments for AD remains limited. Adoptive Treg therapy has been explored for [...] Read more.
The aging global population is placing an increasing burden on healthcare systems, and the social impact of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is on the rise. However, the availability of safe and effective treatments for AD remains limited. Adoptive Treg therapy has been explored for treating neurodegenerative diseases, including AD. To facilitate the clinical application of Treg therapy, we developed a Treg preparation protocol and highlighted the therapeutic effects of Tregs in 5xFAD mice. CD4+CD25+ Tregs, isolated after Aβ stimulation and expanded using a G-rex plate with a gas-permeable membrane, were adoptively transferred into 5xFAD mice. Behavioral analysis was conducted using Y-maze and passive avoidance tests. Additionally, we measured levels of Aβ, phosphorylated tau (pTAU), and nitric oxide synthase 2 (NOS2) in the hippocampus. Real-time RT-PCR was employed to assess the mRNA levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory markers. Our findings indicate that Aβ-specific Tregs not only improved cognitive function but also reduced Aβ and pTAU accumulation in the hippocampus of 5xFAD mice. They also inhibited microglial neuroinflammation. These effects were observed at doses as low as 1.5 × 103 cells/head. Collectively, our results demonstrate that Aβ-specific Tregs can mitigate AD pathology in 5xFAD mice. Full article
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18 pages, 2442 KiB  
Article
Gene Expression Profiling of Post Mortem Midbrain of Parkinson’s Disease Patients and Healthy Controls
by Michele Salemi, Maria Ravo, Giuseppe Lanza, Francesca A. Schillaci, Giovanna Maria Ventola, Giovanna Marchese, Maria Grazia Salluzzo, Graziella Cappelletti and Raffaele Ferri
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(2), 707; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25020707 - 05 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1033
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) stands as the most prevalent degenerative movement disorder, marked by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of the midbrain. In this study, we conducted a transcriptome analysis utilizing post mortem mRNA extracted from the substantia nigra of [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) stands as the most prevalent degenerative movement disorder, marked by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of the midbrain. In this study, we conducted a transcriptome analysis utilizing post mortem mRNA extracted from the substantia nigra of both PD patients and healthy control (CTRL) individuals. Specifically, we acquired eight samples from individuals with PD and six samples from CTRL individuals, with no discernible pathology detected in the latter group. RNA sequencing was conducted using the TapeStation 4200 system from Agilent Technologies. A total of 16,148 transcripts were identified, with 92 mRNAs displaying differential expression between the PD and control groups. Specifically, 33 mRNAs were significantly up-regulated, while 59 mRNAs were down-regulated in PD compared to the controls. The identification of statistically significant signaling pathways, with an adjusted p-value threshold of 0.05, unveiled noteworthy insights. Specifically, the enriched categories included cardiac muscle contraction (involving genes such as ATPase Na+/K+ transporting subunit beta 2 (ATP1B2), solute carrier family 8 member A1 (SLC8A1), and cytochrome c oxidase subunit II (COX2)), GABAergic synapse (involving GABA type A receptor-associated protein-like 1 (GABARAPL1), G protein subunit beta 5 (GNB5), and solute carrier family 38 member 2 (SLC38A2), autophagy (involving GABARAPL1 and tumor protein p53-inducible nuclear protein 2 (TP53INP2)), and Fc gamma receptor (FcγR) mediated phagocytosis (involving amphiphysin (AMPH)). These findings uncover new pathophysiological dimensions underlying PD, implicating genes associated with heart muscle contraction. This knowledge enhances diagnostic accuracy and contributes to the advancement of targeted therapies. Full article
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15 pages, 2553 KiB  
Article
Alteration of Neural Network and Hippocampal Slice Activation through Exosomes Derived from 5XFAD Nasal Lavage Fluid
by Sangseong Kim, Jaekyong Jeon, Dulguun Ganbat, Taewoon Kim, Kyusoon Shin, Sungho Hong and Jongwook Hong
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(18), 14064; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms241814064 - 14 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1212
Abstract
Exosomes, key mediators of intercellular transmission of pathogenic proteins, such as amyloid-beta and tau, significantly influence the progression and exacerbation of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology. Present in a variety of biological fluids, including cerebrospinal fluid, blood, saliva, and nasal lavage fluid (NLF), exosomes [...] Read more.
Exosomes, key mediators of intercellular transmission of pathogenic proteins, such as amyloid-beta and tau, significantly influence the progression and exacerbation of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology. Present in a variety of biological fluids, including cerebrospinal fluid, blood, saliva, and nasal lavage fluid (NLF), exosomes underscore their potential as integral mediators of AD pathology. By serving as vehicles for disease-specific molecules, exosomes could unveil valuable insights into disease identification and progression. This study emphasizes the imperative to investigate the impacts of exosomes on neural networks to enhance our comprehension of intracerebral neuronal communication and its implications for neurological disorders like AD. After harvesting exosomes derived from NLF of 5XFAD mice, we utilized a high-density multielectrode array (HD-MEA) system, the novel technology enabling concurrent recordings from thousands of neurons in primary cortical neuron cultures and organotypic hippocampal slices. The ensuing results revealed a surge in neuronal firing rates and disoriented neural connectivity, reflecting the effects provoked by pathological amyloid-beta oligomer treatment. The local field potentials in the exosome-treated hippocampal brain slices also exhibited aberrant rhythmicity, along with an elevated level of current source density. While this research is an initial exploration, it highlights the potential of exosomes in modulating neural networks under AD conditions and endorses the HD-MEA as an efficacious tool for exosome studies. Full article
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15 pages, 2187 KiB  
Article
Positive Allosteric Modulators of SERCA Pump Restore Dendritic Spines and Rescue Long-Term Potentiation Defects in Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model
by Anastasiya Rakovskaya, Alexander Erofeev, Egor Vinokurov, Ekaterina Pchitskaya, Russell Dahl and Ilya Bezprozvanny
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(18), 13973; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms241813973 - 12 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1227
Abstract
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects memory formation and storage processes. Dysregulated neuronal calcium (Ca2+) has been identified as one of the key pathogenic events in AD, and it has been suggested that pharmacological agents that stabilize Ca [...] Read more.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects memory formation and storage processes. Dysregulated neuronal calcium (Ca2+) has been identified as one of the key pathogenic events in AD, and it has been suggested that pharmacological agents that stabilize Ca2+ neuronal signaling can act as disease-modifying agents in AD. In previous studies, we demonstrated that positive allosteric regulators (PAMs) of the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA) pump might act as such Ca2+-stabilizing agents and exhibit neuroprotective properties. In the present study, we evaluated effects of a set of novel SERCA PAM agents on the rate of Ca2+ extraction from the cytoplasm of the HEK293T cell line, on morphometric parameters of dendritic spines of primary hippocampal neurons in normal conditions and in conditions of amyloid toxicity, and on long-term potentiation in slices derived from 5xFAD transgenic mice modeling AD. Several SERCA PAM compounds demonstrated neuroprotective properties, and the compound NDC-9009 showed the best results. The findings in this study support the hypothesis that the SERCA pump is a potential therapeutic target for AD treatment and that NDC-9009 is a promising lead molecule to be used in the development of disease-modifying agents for AD. Full article
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Review

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26 pages, 2052 KiB  
Review
Another Use for a Proven Drug: Experimental Evidence for the Potential of Artemisinin and Its Derivatives to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
by Eva Kiss, Stefan Kins, Karin Gorgas, Kinga Hajnal Venczel Szakács, Joachim Kirsch and Jochen Kuhse
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(8), 4165; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25084165 - 09 Apr 2024
Viewed by 364
Abstract
Plant-derived multitarget compounds may represent a promising therapeutic strategy for multifactorial diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Artemisinin and its derivatives were indicated to beneficially modulate various aspects of AD pathology in different AD animal models through the regulation of a wide range [...] Read more.
Plant-derived multitarget compounds may represent a promising therapeutic strategy for multifactorial diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Artemisinin and its derivatives were indicated to beneficially modulate various aspects of AD pathology in different AD animal models through the regulation of a wide range of different cellular processes, such as energy homeostasis, apoptosis, proliferation and inflammatory pathways. In this review, we aimed to provide an up-to-date overview of the experimental evidence documenting the neuroprotective activities of artemi-sinins to underscore the potential of these already-approved drugs for treating AD also in humans and propose their consideration for carefully designed clinical trials. In particular, the benefits to the main pathological hallmarks and events in the pathological cascade throughout AD development in different animal models of AD are summarized. Moreover, dose- and context-dependent effects of artemisinins are noted. Full article
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12 pages, 1254 KiB  
Review
Smelling TNT: Trends of the Terminal Nerve
by Wael Abu Ruqa, Fiorenza Pennacchia, Eqrem Rusi, Federica Zoccali, Giuseppe Bruno, Giuseppina Talarico, Christian Barbato and Antonio Minni
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(7), 3920; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25073920 - 31 Mar 2024
Viewed by 536
Abstract
There is very little knowledge regarding the terminal nerve, from its implications in the involvement and pathogenesis of certain conditions, to its embryological origin. With this review, we try to summarize the most important evidence on the terminal nerve, aiming to clarify its [...] Read more.
There is very little knowledge regarding the terminal nerve, from its implications in the involvement and pathogenesis of certain conditions, to its embryological origin. With this review, we try to summarize the most important evidence on the terminal nerve, aiming to clarify its anatomy and the various functions attributed to it, to better interpret its potential involvement in pathological processes. Recent studies have also suggested its potential role in the control of human reproductive functions and behaviors. It has been hypothesized that it plays a role in the unconscious perception of specific odors that influence autonomic and reproductive hormonal systems through the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis. We used the PubMed database and found different articles which were then selected independently by three authors. We found 166 articles, of which, after careful selection, only 21 were analyzed. The terminal nerve was always thought to be unimportant in our body. It was well studied in different types of animals, but few studies have been completed in humans. For this reason, its function remains unknown. Studies suggest a possible implication in olfaction due to the anatomical proximity with the olfactive nerve. Others suggest a more important role in reproduction and sexual behaviors. New emerging information suggests a possible role in Kallmann syndrome and COVID-19. Full article
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28 pages, 2976 KiB  
Review
The Bidirectional Interplay of α-Synuclein with Lipids in the Central Nervous System and Its Implications for the Pathogenesis of Parkinson’s Disease
by Kristina Battis, Wei Xiang and Jürgen Winkler
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(17), 13270; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms241713270 - 26 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1484
Abstract
The alteration and aggregation of alpha-synuclein (α-syn) play a crucial role in neurodegenerative diseases collectively termed as synucleinopathies, including Parkinson’s disease (PD). The bidirectional interaction of α-syn with lipids and biomembranes impacts not only α-syn aggregation but also lipid homeostasis. Indeed, lipid composition [...] Read more.
The alteration and aggregation of alpha-synuclein (α-syn) play a crucial role in neurodegenerative diseases collectively termed as synucleinopathies, including Parkinson’s disease (PD). The bidirectional interaction of α-syn with lipids and biomembranes impacts not only α-syn aggregation but also lipid homeostasis. Indeed, lipid composition and metabolism are severely perturbed in PD. One explanation for lipid-associated alterations may involve structural changes in α-syn, caused, for example, by missense mutations in the lipid-binding region of α-syn as well as post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation, acetylation, nitration, ubiquitination, truncation, glycosylation, and glycation. Notably, different strategies targeting the α-syn-lipid interaction have been identified and are able to reduce α-syn pathology. These approaches include the modulation of post-translational modifications aiming to reduce the aggregation of α-syn and modify its binding properties to lipid membranes. Furthermore, targeting enzymes involved in various steps of lipid metabolism and exploring the neuroprotective potential of lipids themselves have emerged as novel therapeutic approaches. Taken together, this review focuses on the bidirectional crosstalk of α-syn and lipids and how alterations of this interaction affect PD and thereby open a window for therapeutic interventions. Full article
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50 pages, 5600 KiB  
Perspective
On the Inadequacy of the Current Transgenic Animal Models of Alzheimer’s Disease: The Path Forward
by Vladimir Volloch and Sophia Rits-Volloch
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(5), 2981; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25052981 - 04 Mar 2024
Viewed by 623
Abstract
For at least two reasons, the current transgenic animal models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) appear to be patently inadequate. They may be useful in many respects, the AD models; however, they are not. First, they are incapable of developing the full spectrum of [...] Read more.
For at least two reasons, the current transgenic animal models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) appear to be patently inadequate. They may be useful in many respects, the AD models; however, they are not. First, they are incapable of developing the full spectrum of the AD pathology. Second, they respond spectacularly well to drugs that are completely ineffective in the treatment of symptomatic AD. These observations indicate that both the transgenic animal models and the drugs faithfully reflect the theory that guided the design and development of both, the amyloid cascade hypothesis (ACH), and that both are inadequate because their underlying theory is. This conclusion necessitated the formulation of a new, all-encompassing theory of conventional AD—the ACH2.0. The two principal attributes of the ACH2.0 are the following. One, in conventional AD, the agent that causes the disease and drives its pathology is the intraneuronal amyloid-β (iAβ) produced in two distinctly different pathways. Two, following the commencement of AD, the bulk of Aβ is generated independently of Aβ protein precursor (AβPP) and is retained inside the neuron as iAβ. Within the framework of the ACH2.0, AβPP-derived iAβ accumulates physiologically in a lifelong process. It cannot reach levels required to support the progression of AD; it does, however, cause the disease. Indeed, conventional AD occurs if and when the levels of AβPP-derived iAβ cross the critical threshold, elicit the neuronal integrated stress response (ISR), and trigger the activation of the AβPP-independent iAβ generation pathway; the disease commences only when this pathway is operational. The iAβ produced in this pathway reaches levels sufficient to drive the AD pathology; it also propagates its own production and thus sustains the activity of the pathway and perpetuates its operation. The present study analyzes the reason underlying the evident inadequacy of the current transgenic animal models of AD. It concludes that they model, in fact, not Alzheimer’s disease but rather the effects of the neuronal ISR sustained by AβPP-derived iAβ, that this is due to the lack of the operational AβPP-independent iAβ production pathway, and that this mechanism must be incorporated into any successful AD model faithfully emulating the disease. The study dissects the plausible molecular mechanisms of the AβPP-independent iAβ production and the pathways leading to their activation, and introduces the concept of conventional versus unconventional Alzheimer’s disease. It also proposes the path forward, posits the principles of design of productive transgenic animal models of the disease, and describes the molecular details of their construction. Full article
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65 pages, 15612 KiB  
Perspective
Next Generation Therapeutic Strategy for Treatment and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease and Aging-Associated Cognitive Decline: Transient, Once-in-a-Lifetime-Only Depletion of Intraneuronal Aβ (iAβ) by Its Targeted Degradation via Augmentation of Intra-iAβ-Cleaving Activities of BACE1 and/or BACE2
by Vladimir Volloch and Sophia Rits-Volloch
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(24), 17586; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms242417586 - 18 Dec 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1055
Abstract
Although the long-standing Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis (ACH) has been largely discredited, its main attribute, the centrality of amyloid-beta (Aβ) in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), remains the cornerstone of any potential interpretation of the disease: All known AD-causing mutations, without a single exception, affect, in [...] Read more.
Although the long-standing Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis (ACH) has been largely discredited, its main attribute, the centrality of amyloid-beta (Aβ) in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), remains the cornerstone of any potential interpretation of the disease: All known AD-causing mutations, without a single exception, affect, in one way or another, Aβ. The ACH2.0, a recently introduced theory of AD, preserves this attribute but otherwise differs fundamentally from the ACH. It posits that AD is a two-stage disorder where both stages are driven by intraneuronal (rather than extracellular) Aβ (iAβ) albeit of two distinctly different origins. The first asymptomatic stage is the decades-long accumulation of Aβ protein precursor (AβPP)-derived iAβ to the critical threshold. This triggers the activation of the self-sustaining AβPP-independent iAβ production pathway and the commencement of the second, symptomatic AD stage. Importantly, Aβ produced independently of AβPP is retained intraneuronally. It drives the AD pathology and perpetuates the operation of the pathway; continuous cycles of the iAβ-stimulated propagation of its own AβPP-independent production constitute an engine that drives AD, the AD Engine. It appears that the dynamics of AβPP-derived iAβ accumulation is the determining factor that either drives Aging-Associated Cognitive Decline (AACD) and triggers AD or confers the resistance to both. Within the ACH2.0 framework, the ACH-based drugs, designed to lower levels of extracellular Aβ, could be applicable in the prevention of AD and treatment of AACD because they reduce the rate of accumulation of AβPP-derived iAβ. The present study analyzes their utility and concludes that it is severely limited. Indeed, their short-term employment is ineffective, their long-term engagement is highly problematic, their implementation at the symptomatic stages of AD is futile, and their evaluation in conventional clinical trials for the prevention of AD is impractical at best, impossible at worst, and misleading in between. In contrast, the ACH2.0-guided Next Generation Therapeutic Strategy for the treatment and prevention of both AD and AACD, namely the depletion of iAβ via its transient, short-duration, targeted degradation by the novel ACH2.0-based drugs, has none of the shortcomings of the ACH-based drugs. It is potentially highly effective, easily evaluable in clinical trials, and opens up the possibility of once-in-a-lifetime-only therapeutic intervention for prevention and treatment of both conditions. It also identifies two plausible ACH2.0-based drugs: activators of physiologically occurring intra-iAβ-cleaving capabilities of BACE1 and/or BACE2. Full article
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