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Phospholipase A2 reduction ameliorates cognitive deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease


Neuronal expression of familial Alzheimer's disease–mutant human amyloid precursor protein (hAPP) and hAPP-derived amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides causes synaptic dysfunction, inflammation and abnormal cerebrovascular tone in transgenic mice. Fatty acids may be involved in these processes, but their contribution to Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis is uncertain. We used a lipidomics approach to generate a broad profile of fatty acids in brain tissues of hAPP-expressing mice and found an increase in arachidonic acid and its metabolites, suggesting increased activity of the group IV isoform of phospholipase A2 (GIVA-PLA2). The levels of activated GIVA-PLA2 in the hippocampus were increased in individuals with Alzheimer's disease and in hAPP mice. Aβ caused a dose-dependent increase in GIVA-PLA2 phosphorylation in neuronal cultures. Inhibition of GIVA-PLA2 diminished Aβ-induced neurotoxicity. Genetic ablation or reduction of GIVA-PLA2 protected hAPP mice against Aβ-dependent deficits in learning and memory, behavioral alterations and premature mortality. Inhibition of GIVA-PLA2 may be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

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Figure 1: Increased PLA2-dependent fatty acid levels in brain tissues of hAPP mice.
Figure 2: GIVA-PLA2 levels in hAPP mice and humans with Alzheimer's disease.
Figure 3: Inhibition of GIVA-PLA2 prevents Aβ1–42 toxicity in primary neuronal cultures.
Figure 4: GIVA-PLA2 reduction improves learning and memory in hAPP mice.
Figure 5: Pla2g4a reduction prevents hyperactivity, abnormal anxiety/exploration-related behavior and premature mortality in hAPP mice.
Figure 6: Reduction or removal of GIVA-PLA2 did not affect hAPP or Aβ levels in hAPP mice.


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We thank the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at University of California San Francisco for postmortem brain tissues; T. Wu, A. Thwin and H. Solanoy for technical support; C. McCulloch for help with statistical analysis; G. Howard and S. Ordway for editorial review; J. Carroll and C. Goodfellow for preparation of graphics; and D. McPherson for administrative assistance. The study was supported by US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants AG011385, AG022074 and NS041787 to L.M., AG028233 to R.O.S.-M. and US NIH/National Center for Research Resources grant CO6RR018928 to the J. David Gladstone Institutes. Additional support was provided by the US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 5306-51530-016-00D to J.W.N. and from the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases DK 054741 to J.V.B.

Author information




R.O.S.-M. and L.M. developed the experimental design, performed data analysis and wrote the paper. R.O.S.-M. and J.W.N. carried out the lipidomics analysis. R.O.S.-M. performed the western blot and immunohistochemical analyses. G.-Q.Y. carried out the APP and Aβ measurements. R.O.S.-M., S.T. and K.S.-L. performed the behavioral testing and analyses. Y.Z. and L.G. provided primary neuronal cultures. I.H.C. provided oligomeric Aβ. J.J.P. and J.V.B. provided mice and contributed to experimental design. M.C. provided recombinant hAPP. R.O.S.-M. and B.H. carried out the electrophysiology experiments. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Rene O Sanchez-Mejia or Lennart Mucke.

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Competing interests

Lennart Mucke has a consulting agreement with Merck.

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Sanchez-Mejia, R., Newman, J., Toh, S. et al. Phospholipase A2 reduction ameliorates cognitive deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Nat Neurosci 11, 1311–1318 (2008).

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