NDRG2 Expression Correlates with Neurofibrillary Tangles and Microglial Pathology in the Ageing Brain
Astrocytes play a major role in the pathogenesis of a range of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), undergoing dramatic morphological and molecular changes that can cause potentially both beneficial and detrimental effects. They comprise a heterogeneous population, requiring a panel of specific phenotype markers to identify astrocyte subtypes, changes in function and their relation to pathology. This study aimed to characterise expression of the astrocyte marker N-myc downstream regulated gene 2 (NDRG2) in the ageing brain, investigate the relationship between NDRG2 and a panel of astrocyte markers, and relate NDRG2 expression to pathology. NDRG2 specifically immunolabelled the cell body and radiating processes of astrocytes in the temporal cortex of the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (CFAS) neuropathology cohort. Expression of NDRG2 did not correlate with other astrocyte markers, including glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2) and glutamine synthetase (GS). NDRG2 showed a relationship to AT8+ neurofibrillary tangles (p = 0.001) and CD68+ microglia (p = 0.047), but not β-amyloid plaques or astrocyte nuclear γH2AX immunoreactivity, a marker of DNA damage response. These findings provide new insight into the astrocyte response to pathology in the ageing brain, and suggest NDRG2 may be a potential target to modulate this response.