According to the amyloid hypothesis, the accumulation of oligomerized amyloid-β (Aβ) is a primary event in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The trigger of the amyloid cascade and of Aβ oligomerization in sporadic AD, the most prevalent form of the disease, remains elusive. Here, we examined the hypothesis that apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4), the most prevalent genetic risk factor for AD, triggers the accumulation of intraneuronal oligomerized Aβ following activation of the amyloid cascade. We investigated the intracellular organelles that are targeted by these processes and govern their pathological consequences. This revealed that activation of the amyloid cascade in vivo by inhibition of the Aβ degrading enzyme neprilysin specifically results in accumulation of Aβ and oligomerized Aβ and of ApoE4 in the CA1 neurons of ApoE4 mice. This was accompanied by lysosomal and mitochondrial pathology and the co-localization of Aβ, oligomerized Aβ, and ApoE4 with enlarged lysosomes and of Aβ and oligomerized Aβ with mitochondria. The time course of the lysosomal effects paralleled that of the loss of CA1 neurons, whereas the mitochondrial effects reached an earlier plateau. These findings suggest that ApoE4 potentiates the pathological effects of Aβ and the amyloid cascade by triggering the oligomerization of Aβ, which in turn, impairs intraneuronal mitochondria and lysosomes and drives neurodegeneration.
- CA1 neurons
- apolipoprotein E4