admin February 7, 2019

Abstract

Although, by age 40, individuals with Down syndrome (DS) develop amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and tau-containing neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) linked to cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), not all people with DS develop dementia. Whether Aβ plaques and NFTs are associated with individuals with DS with (DSD +) and without dementia (DSD −) is under-investigated. Here, we applied quantitative immunocytochemistry and fluorescent procedures to characterize NFT pathology using antibodies specific for tau phosphorylation (pS422, AT8), truncation (TauC3, MN423), and conformational (Alz50, MC1) epitopes, as well as Aβ and its precursor protein (APP) to frontal cortex (FC) and striatal tissue from DSD + to DSD − cases. Expression profiling of single pS422 labeled FC layer V and VI neurons was also determined using laser capture microdissection and custom-designed microarray analysis. Analysis revealed that cortical and striatal Aβ plaque burdens were similar in DSD + and DSD − cases. In both groups, most FC plaques were neuritic, while striatal plaques were diffuse. By contrast, FC AT8-positive NFTs and neuropil thread densities were significantly greater in DSD + compared to DSD −, while striatal NFT densities were similar between groups. FC pS422-positive and TauC3 NFT densities were significantly greater than Alz50-labeled NFTs in DSD + , but not DSD − cases. Putaminal, but not caudate pS422-positive NFT density, was significantly greater than TauC3-positive NFTs. In the FC, AT8 + pS422 + Alz50, TauC3 + pS422 + Alz50, pS422 + Alz50, and TauC3 + pS422 positive NFTs were more frequent in DSD + compared to DSD- cases. Single gene-array profiling of FC pS422 positive neurons revealed downregulation of 63 of a total of 864 transcripts related to Aβ/tau biology, glutamatergic, cholinergic, and monoaminergic metabolism, intracellular signaling, cell homeostasis, and cell death in DSD + compared DSD − cases. These observations suggest that abnormal tau aggregation plays a critical role in the development of dementia in DS.

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