Author(s): Matos M, Augusto E, Oliveira CR, Agostinho P
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Abstract Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder primarily characterized by excessive deposition of amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides in the brain. One of the earliest neuropathological changes in AD is the presence of a high number of reactive astrocytes at sites of Abeta deposition. Disturbance of glutamatergic neurotransmission and consequent excitotoxicity is also believed as implicated in the progression of this dementia. Therefore, the study of astrocyte responses to Abeta, the main cellular type involved in the maintenance of synaptic glutamate concentrations, is crucial for understanding the pathogenesis of AD. This study aims to investigate the effect of Abeta on the astrocytic glutamate transporters, glutamate transporter-1 (GLT-1) and glutamate-aspartate transporter (GLAST), and their relative participation to glutamate clearance. In addition we have also investigated the involvement of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases in the modulation of GLT-1 and GLAST levels and activity and the putative contribution of oxidative stress induced by Abeta to the astrocytic glutamate transport function. Therefore, we used primary cultures of rat brain astrocytes exposed to Abeta synthetic peptides. The data obtained show that Abeta(1-40) peptide decreased astroglial glutamate uptake capacity in a non-competitive mode of inhibition, assessed in terms of tritium radiolabeled d-aspartate (d-[(3)H]aspartate) transport. The activity of GLT-1 seemed to be more affected than that of GLAST, and the levels of both transporters were decreased in Abeta(1-40)-treated astrocytes. We demonstrated that MAP kinases, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase, were activated in an early phase of Abeta(1-40) treatment and the whole pathways differentially modulated the glutamate transporters activity/levels. Moreover it was shown that oxidative stress induced by Abeta(1-40) may lead to the glutamate uptake impairment observed. Taken together, our results suggest that Abeta peptide downregulates the astrocytic glutamate uptake capacity and this effect may be in part mediated by oxidative stress and the differential activity and complex balance between the MAP kinase signaling pathways.
This article was published in Neuroscience
and referenced in Journal of Alzheimers Disease & Parkinsonism