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Differential vulnerability of hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapses to Aβ

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Shipton, Olivia A 
Vargas-Caballero, Mariana  ORCID logo


Abstract: Amyloid-beta (Aβ) and tau protein are both involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Aβ produces synaptic deficits in wild-type mice that are not seen in Mapt−/− mice, suggesting that tau protein is required for these effects of Aβ. However, whether some synapses are more selectively affected and what factors may determine synaptic vulnerability to Aβ are poorly understood. Here we first observed that burst timing-dependent long-term potentiation (b-LTP) in hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapses, which requires GluN2B subunit-containing NMDA receptors (NMDARs), was inhibited by human Aβ1–42 (hAβ) in wild-type (WT) mice, but not in tau-knockout (Mapt−/−) mice. We then tested whether NMDAR currents were affected by hAβ; we found that hAβ reduced the postsynaptic NMDAR current in WT mice but not in Mapt−/− mice, while the NMDAR current was reduced to a similar extent by the GluN2B-selective NMDAR antagonist Ro 25–6981. To further investigate a possible difference in GluN2B-containing NMDARs in Mapt−/− mice, we used optogenetics to compare NMDAR/AMPAR ratio of EPSCs in CA1 synapses with input from left vs right CA3. It was previously reported in WT mice that hippocampal synapses in CA1 that receive input from the left CA3 display a higher NMDAR charge transfer and a higher Ro-sensitivity than synapses in CA1 that receive input from the right CA3. Here we observed the same pattern in Mapt−/− mice, thus differential NMDAR subunit expression does not explain the difference in hAβ effect on LTP. Finally, we asked whether synapses with left vs right CA3 input are differentially affected by hAβ in WT mice. We found that NMDAR current in synapses with input from the left CA3 were reduced while synapses with input from the right CA3 were unaffected by acute hAβ exposure. These results suggest that hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapses with presynaptic axon originating in the left CA3 are selectively vulnerable to Aβ and that a genetic knock out of tau protein protects them from Aβ synaptotoxicity.



Research, Alzheimer’s disease, Synapse, Tau, Asymmetry, Hippocampus, Optogenetics

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Acta Neuropathologica Communications

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BioMed Central
Alzheimer's Research UK (ARUK-PPG2016A-8, ARUK-PPG2012B-12)