Hyperexcitability and epileptic seizures in a model of frontotemporal dementia.

García-Cabrero AM, Guerrero-López R, Giráldez BG, Llorens-Martín M, Avila J, Serratosa JM, Sánchez MP.

Neurobiology of Disease.
doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2013.06.005.

Epileptic seizures are more common in patients with Alzheimer disease than in the general elderly population. Abnormal forms of hyperphosphorylated tau accumulate in Alzheimer disease and other tauopathies. Aggregates of tau are also found in patients with epilepsy and in experimental models of epilepsy. We report here the analysis of epileptic activity and neuropathological correlates of a transgenic line over-expressing human mutant tau, a model of frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17). The FTDP-17 model displays spontaneous epileptic activity and seizures with spike-wave complexes in the EEG, and a higher sensitivity to the GABAA receptor antagonist pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) when compared to age-matched controls, showing a notably increased seizure length and a shorter latency to develop severe seizures. FTDP-17 human tau mutants also display lower convulsive thresholds and higher lethality after PTZ injections. Astrocytosis and activated microglia are prominent in the hippocampus and other brain regions of young FTDP-17 mice where the human mutant tau transgene is expressed, before the appearance of hyperphosphorylated tau aggregates in these structures. FTDP-17 human mutant tau over-expression produces epilepsy and increased GABAA receptor-mediated hyperexcitability in the absence of Aβ pathology. Although aggregates of hyperphosphorylated tau have been observed in patients with epilepsy and in different chemically and electrically generated models of epilepsy, the FTDP-17 tau mutant analyzed here is the first model of genetically modified tau that presents with epilepsy. This model may represent a valuable tool to assay novel treatments in order to reduce tau pathology, a potential factor which may be involved in the development of epileptic seizures in dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Role of neuroinflammation in adult neurogenesis and Alzheimer disease: therapeutic approaches.

Fuster-Matanzo A, Llorens-Martín M, Hernández F, Avila J.

Mediators of Inflammation.
doi: 10.1155/2013/260925.

Neuroinflammation, a specialized immune response that takes place in the central nervous system, has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases, and specially, it has been considered as a hallmark of Alzheimer disease, the most common cause of dementia in the elderly nowadays. Furthermore, neuroinflammation has been demonstrated to affect important processes in the brain, such as the formation of new neurons, commonly known as adult neurogenesis. For this, many therapeutic approaches have been developed in order to avoid or mitigate the deleterious effects caused by the chronic activation of the immune response. Considering this, in this paper we revise the relationships between neuroinflammation, Alzheimer disease, and adult neurogenesis, as well as the current therapeutic approaches that have been developed in the field.

Cessation of voluntary wheel running increases anxiety-like behavior and impairs adult hippocampal neurogenesis in mice.

Nishijima T, Llorens-Martín M, Tejeda GS, Inoue K, Yamamura Y, Soya H, Trejo JL, Torres-Alemán I.

Behavioral Brain Research.
doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.02.009.

While increasing evidence demonstrates that physical exercise promotes brain health, little is known on how the reduction of physical activity affects brain function. We investigated whether the cessation of wheel running alters anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors and its impact on adult hippocampal neurogenesis in mice. Male C57BL/6 mice (4 weeks old) were assigned to one of the following groups, and housed until 21 weeks old; (1) no exercise control (noEx), housed in a standard cage; (2) exercise (Ex), housed in a running wheel cage; and (3) exercise-no exercise (Ex-noEx), housed in a running wheel cage for 8 weeks and subsequently in a standard cage. Behavioral evaluations suggested that Ex-noEx mice were more anxious compared to noEx control mice, but no differences were found in depression-like behavior. The number of BrdU-labeled surviving cells in the dentate gyrus was significantly higher in Ex but not in Ex-noEx compared with noEx, indicating that the facilitative effects of exercise on cell survival are reversible. Surprisingly, the ratio of differentiation of BrdU-positive cells to doublecortin-positive immature neurons was significantly lower in Ex-noEx compared to the other groups, suggesting that the cessation of wheel running impairs an important component of hippocampal neurogenesis in mice. These results indicate that hippocampal adaptation to physical inactivity is not simply a return to the conditions present in sedentary mice. As the impaired neurogenesis is predicted to increase a vulnerability to stress-induced mood disorders, the reduction of physical activity may contribute to a greater risk of these disorders.

GSK-3β overexpression causes reversible alterations on postsynaptic densities and dendritic morphology of hippocampal granule neurons in vivo.

Llorens-Martín M, Fuster-Matanzo A, Teixeira CM, Jurado-Arjona J, Ulloa F, Defelipe J, Rábano A, Hernández F, Soriano E, Avila J.

Molecular Psychiatry.
doi: 10.1038/mp.2013.4.

Adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) is crucial for the maintenance of hippocampal function. Several neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) are accompanied by memory deficits that could be related to alterations in AHN. Here, we took advantage of a conditional mouse model to study the involvement of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) overexpression (OE) in AHN. By injecting GFP- and PSD95-GFP-expressing retroviruses, we have determined that hippocampal GSK-3β-OE causes dramatic alterations in both dendritic tree morphology and post-synaptic densities in newborn neurons. Alterations in previously damaged neurons were reverted by switching off the transgenic system and also by using a physiological approach (environmental enrichment) to increase hippocampal plasticity. Furthermore, comparative morphometric analysis of granule neurons from patients with AD and from GSK-3β overexpressing mice revealed shared morphological alterations. Taken together, these data indicate that GSK-3β is crucial for hippocampal function, thereby supporting this kinase as a relevant target for the treatment of AD.

Related Image article:

Alzheimer disease-like cellular phenotype of newborn granule neurons can be reversed in GSK-3β-overexpressing mice.

Llorens-Martín M, Fuster-Matanzo A, Teixeira CM, Jurado-Arjona J, Ulloa F, Defelipe J, Rábano A, Hernández F, Soriano E, Avila J.

Molecular Psychiatry.
doi: 10.1038/mp.2013.27.

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Dual effects of increased glycogen synthase kinase-3β activity on adult neurogenesis.

Fuster-Matanzo A, Llorens-Martín M, Sirerol-Piquer MS, García-Verdugo JM, Avila J, Hernández F.

Human Molecular Genetics. 
doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds533.

Adult neurogenesis, the generation of new neurons during the adulthood, is a process controlled by several kinases and phosphatases among which GSK3β exerts important functions. This protein is particularly abundant in the central nervous system, and its activity deregulation is believed to play a key role in chronic disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Previously, we reported that in vivo overexpression of GSK3β (Tet/GSK3β mice) causes alterations in adult neurogenesis, leading to a depletion of the neurogenic niches. Here, we have further characterized those alterations, finding a delay in the switching-off of doublecortin marker as well as changes in the survival and death rates of immature precursors and a decrease in the total number of mature neurons. Besides, we have highlighted the importance of the inflammatory environment, identifying eotaxin as a possible modulator of the detrimental effects on adult neurogenesis. Taking advantage of the conditional system, we have also explored whether these negative consequences of increasing GSK3 activity are susceptible to revert after doxycycline treatment. We show that transgene shutdown in symptomatic mice reverts microgliosis, abnormal eotaxin levels as well as the aforementioned alterations concerning immature neurons. Unexpectedly, the decrease in the number of mature neurons and neuronal precursor cells of the subgranular zone of Tet/GSK3β mice could not be reverted. Thus, alterations in adult neurogenesis and likely in neurodegenerative disorders can be restored in part, although neurogenic niche depletion represents a non-reversible damage persisting during lifetime with a remarkable impact in adult mature neurons.


Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CBMSO) Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Campus de Cantoblanco)
C/ Nicolás Cabrera 1 - 28049 Madrid (Spain)

María Llorens-Martín (PI)
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