Ageing and amyloidosis underlie the molecular and pathological alterations of tau in a mouse model of familial Alzheimer’s disease

Athanasios Metaxas*, Camilla Thygesen, Stefan J. Kempf, Marco Anzalone, Ramanan Vaitheeswaran, Sussanne Petersen, Anne M. Landau, Hélène Audrain, Jessica L. Teeling, Sultan Darvesh, David J. Brooks, Martin R. Larsen, Bente Finsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Despite compelling evidence that the accumulation of amyloid-beta (Aβ) promotes neocortical MAPT (tau) aggregation in familial and idiopathic Alzheimer’s disease (AD), murine models of cerebral amyloidosis are not considered to develop tau-associated pathology. In the present study, we show that tau can accumulate spontaneously in aged transgenic APPswe/PS1ΔE9 mice. Tau pathology is abundant around Aβ deposits, and further characterized by accumulation of Gallyas and thioflavin-S-positive inclusions, which were detected in the APPswe/PS1ΔE9 brain at 18 months of age. Age-dependent increases in argyrophilia correlated positively with binding levels of the paired helical filament (PHF) tracer [18F]Flortaucipir, in all brain areas examined. Sarkosyl-insoluble PHFs were visualized by electron microscopy. Quantitative proteomics identified sequences of hyperphosphorylated and three-repeat tau in transgenic mice, along with signs of RNA missplicing, ribosomal dysregulation and disturbed energy metabolism. Tissue from the frontal gyrus of human subjects was used to validate these findings, revealing primarily quantitative differences between the tau pathology observed in AD patient vs. transgenic mouse tissue. As physiological levels of endogenous, ‘wild-type’ tau aggregate secondarily to Aβ in APPswe/PS1ΔE9 mice, this study suggests that amyloidosis is both necessary and sufficient to drive tauopathy in experimental models of familial AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15758
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 31. Oct 2019


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