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Age-dependent roles of peroxisomes in the hippocampus of a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease

Francesca Fanelli13, Sara Sepe1, Marcello D’Amelio23, Cinzia Bernardi4, Loredana Cristiano5, AnnaMaria Cimini5, Francesco Cecconi26, Maria Paola Ceru'5 and Sandra Moreno1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology-LIME, University “Roma Tre”, viale Marconi 446, 00146, Rome, Italy

2 IRCCS S. Lucia Foundation, via del Fosso di Fiorano 65, 00143, Rome, Italy

3 University Campus Bio-Medico, via Alvaro del Portillo 21, 00128, Rome, Italy

4 Department of Radiological Sciences and Laboratory Medicine, UOC Pathological Anatomy, San Filippo Neri Hospital, via Martinotti 20, 00135, Rome, Italy

5 Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L’Aquila, piazzale Salvatore Tommasi 1, 67100, Coppito, (AQ), Italy

6 Department of Biology, University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’, via della Ricerca Scientifica, 00133, Rome, Italy

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Molecular Neurodegeneration 2013, 8:8  doi:10.1186/1750-1326-8-8

Published: 2 February 2013



Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, especially affecting the hippocampus. Impairment of cognitive and memory functions is associated with amyloid β-peptide-induced oxidative stress and alterations in lipid metabolism. In this scenario, the dual role of peroxisomes in producing and removing ROS, and their function in fatty acids β-oxidation, may be critical. This work aims to investigating the possible involvement of peroxisomes in AD onset and progression, as studied in a transgenic mouse model, harboring the human Swedish familial AD mutation. We therefore characterized the peroxisomal population in the hippocampus, focusing on early, advanced, and late stages of the disease (3, 6, 9, 12, 18 months of age). Several peroxisome-related markers in transgenic and wild-type hippocampal formation were comparatively studied, by a combined molecular/immunohistochemical/ultrastructural approach.


Our results demonstrate early and significant peroxisomal modifications in AD mice, compared to wild-type. Indeed, the peroxisomal membrane protein of 70 kDa and acyl-CoA oxidase 1 are induced at 3 months, possibly reflecting the need for efficient fatty acid β-oxidation, as a compensatory response to mitochondrial dysfunction. The concomitant presence of oxidative damage markers and the altered expression of antioxidant enzymes argue for early oxidative stress in AD. During physiological and pathological brain aging, important changes in the expression of peroxisome-related proteins, also correlating with ongoing gliosis, occur in the hippocampus. These age- and genotype-based alterations, strongly dependent on the specific marker considered, indicate metabolic and/or numerical remodeling of peroxisomal population.


Overall, our data support functional and biogenetic relationships linking peroxisomes to mitochondria and suggest peroxisomal proteins as biomarkers/therapeutic targets in pre-symptomatic AD.

Peroxisome; Brain aging; Alzheimer’s disease; Neurodegeneration; Oxidative stress; Lipid metabolism; Catalase; Superoxide dismutase; Glutathione peroxidase; Acyl-CoA beta-oxidation