NMDA receptor subunit composition determines beta-amyloid-induced neurodegeneration and synaptic loss

C Tackenberg, S Grinschgl, A Trutzel, A C Santuccione, M C Frey, U Konietzko, J Grimm, R Brandt, R M Nitsch
Aggregates of amyloid-beta (A) and tau are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD) leading to neurodegeneration and synaptic loss. While increasing evidence suggests that inhibition of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) may mitigate certain aspects of AD neuropathology, the precise role of different NMDAR subtypes for A-and tau-mediated toxicity remains to be elucidated. Using mouse organotypic hippocampal slice cultures from arcA transgenic mice combined with Sindbis virus-mediated
more » ... n of human wild-type tau protein (hTau), we show that A caused dendritic spine loss independently of tau. However, the presence of hTau was required for A-induced cell death accompanied by increased hTau phosphorylation. Inhibition of NR2B-containing NMDARs abolished A-induced hTau phosphorylation and toxicity by preventing GSK-3 activation but did not affect dendritic spine loss. Inversely, NR2A-containing NMDAR inhibition as well as NR2A-subunit knockout diminished dendritic spine loss but not the A effect on hTau. Activation of extrasynaptic NMDARs in primary neurons caused degeneration of hTau-expressing neurons, which could be prevented by NR2B-NMDAR inhibition but not by NR2A knockout. Furthermore, caspase-3 activity was increased in arcA transgenic cultures. Activity was reduced by NR2A knockout but not by NR2B inhibition. Accordingly, caspase-3 inhibition abolished spine loss but not hTau-dependent toxicity in arcA transgenic slice cultures. Our data show that A induces dendritic spine loss via a pathway involving NR2A-containing NMDARs and active caspase-3 whereas activation of eSyn NR2B-containing NMDARs is required for hTau-dependent neurodegeneration, independent of caspase-3.
doi:10.5167/uzh-89099 fatcat:ewtpipiksbbunil4rqzw2e3ec4