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Defective lysosomal proteolysis and axonal transport are early pathogenic events that worsen with age leading to increased APP metabolism and synaptic Abeta in transgenic APP/PS1 hippocampus

Manuel Torres123, Sebastian Jimenez123, Raquel Sanchez-Varo34, Victoria Navarro123, Laura Trujillo-Estrada34, Elisabeth Sanchez-Mejias34, Irene Carmona123, Jose Carlos Davila34, Marisa Vizuete123, Antonia Gutierrez34* and Javier Vitorica123*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla (IBIS), Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocio, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas Universidad de Sevilla, c/ Manuel Siurot s/n, 41013, Sevilla, Spain

2 Department Bioquimica y Biologia Molecular, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla, 41012, Spain

3 Centro de Investigacion Biomedica en Red sobre Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED), Madrid, Spain

4 Department Biologia Celular, Genetica y Fisiologia, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Malaga, Malaga, 29071, Spain

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Molecular Neurodegeneration 2012, 7:59  doi:10.1186/1750-1326-7-59

Published: 22 November 2012



Axonal pathology might constitute one of the earliest manifestations of Alzheimer disease. Axonal dystrophies were observed in Alzheimer’s patients and transgenic models at early ages. These axonal dystrophies could reflect the disruption of axonal transport and the accumulation of multiple vesicles at local points. It has been also proposed that dystrophies might interfere with normal intracellular proteolysis. In this work, we have investigated the progression of the hippocampal pathology and the possible implication in Abeta production in young (6 months) and aged (18 months) PS1(M146L)/APP(751sl) transgenic mice.


Our data demonstrated the existence of a progressive, age-dependent, formation of axonal dystrophies, mainly located in contact with congophilic Abeta deposition, which exhibited tau and neurofilament hyperphosphorylation. This progressive pathology was paralleled with decreased expression of the motor proteins kinesin and dynein. Furthermore, we also observed an early decrease in the activity of cathepsins B and D, progressing to a deep inhibition of these lysosomal proteases at late ages. This lysosomal impairment could be responsible for the accumulation of LC3-II and ubiquitinated proteins within axonal dystrophies. We have also investigated the repercussion of these deficiencies on the APP metabolism. Our data demonstrated the existence of an increase in the amyloidogenic pathway, which was reflected by the accumulation of hAPPfl, C99 fragment, intracellular Abeta in parallel with an increase in BACE and gamma-secretase activities. In vitro experiments, using APPswe transfected N2a cells, demonstrated that any imbalance on the proteolytic systems reproduced the in vivo alterations in APP metabolism. Finally, our data also demonstrated that Abeta peptides were preferentially accumulated in isolated synaptosomes.


A progressive age-dependent cytoskeletal pathology along with a reduction of lysosomal and, in minor extent, proteasomal activity could be directly implicated in the progressive accumulation of APP derived fragments (and Abeta peptides) in parallel with the increase of BACE-1 and gamma-secretase activities. This retard in the APP metabolism seemed to be directly implicated in the synaptic Abeta accumulation and, in consequence, in the pathology progression between synaptically connected regions.

Alzheimer’s disease; PS1/APP transgenic model; Dystrophic neurites; Tau phosphorylation. Cathepsin activity; APP processing; Abeta production