Role of CD40 ligand in amyloidosis in transgenic Alzheimer's mice


We have shown that interaction of CD40 with CD40L enables microglial activation in response to amyloid-β peptide (Aβ), which is associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like neuronal tau hyperphosphorylation in vivo. Here we report that transgenic mice overproducing Aβ, but deficient in CD40L, showed decreased astrocytosis and microgliosis associated with diminished Aβ levels and β-amyloid plaque load. Furthermore, in the PSAPP transgenic mouse model of AD, a depleting antibody against CD40L caused marked attenuation of Aβ/β-amyloid pathology, which was associated with decreased amyloidogenic processing of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and increased circulating levels of Aβ. Conversely, in neuroblastoma cells overexpressing wild-type human APP, the CD40–CD40L interaction resulted in amyloidogenic APP processing. These findings suggest several possible mechanisms underlying mitigation of AD pathology in response to CD40L depletion, and validate the CD40–CD40L interaction as a target for therapeutic intervention in AD.

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Figure 1: Quantitative analysis of β-amyloid plaques in Tg APPsw/CD40L def. mice versus Tg APPsw mice at 16 months of age.
Figure 2: Microgliosis and astrocytosis are reduced in Tg APPsw/CD40L def. mice.
Figure 3: β-amyloid deposits are markedly reduced in 8-month-old PSAPP mice treated with anti-CD40L antibody.
Figure 4: CD40L modulates APP processing in vivo and in vitro.


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We are grateful to D. Roskamp and R. Roskamp for support, which made this work possible. This work was supported in part by the Alzheimer's Association. We thank Y. Wu and J. Zeng for assistance in preparating mouse brain homogenates and for western analysis. We also thank S. Gandy (New York University, Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research) and H. Steiner (Adolf Butenandt-Institute, Ludwig-Maximilians-University) for providing antibodies against the C-terminus of APP and G. Thinakaran (University of Chicago, Committee on Neurobiology) and S. Gandy for providing the N2a cell line that stably overexpresses wild-type human APP-695.

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Correspondence to Michael J. Mullan.

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