Neurobiology of aging

Aβ and NMDAR activation cause mitochondrial dysfunction involving ER calcium release.

PMID 25442114


Early cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease (AD) seem to be correlated to dysregulation of glutamate receptors evoked by amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptide. Aβ interference with the activity of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) may be a relevant factor for Aβ-induced mitochondrial toxicity and neuronal dysfunction. To evaluate the role of mitochondria in NMDARs activation mediated by Aβ, we followed in situ single-cell simultaneous measurement of cytosolic free Ca(2+)(Cai(2+)) and mitochondrial membrane potential in primary cortical neurons. Our results show that direct exposure to Aβ + NMDA largely increased Cai(2+) and induced immediate mitochondrial depolarization, compared with Aβ or NMDA alone. Mitochondrial depolarization induced by rotenone strongly inhibited the rise in Cai(2+) evoked by Aβ or NMDA, suggesting that mitochondria control Ca(2+) entry through NMDARs. However, incubation with rotenone did not preclude mitochondrial Ca(2+) (mitCa(2+)) retention in cells treated with Aβ. Aβ-induced Cai(2+) and mitCa(2+) rise were inhibited by ifenprodil, an antagonist of GluN2B-containing NMDARs. Exposure to Aβ + NMDA further evoked a higher mitCa(2+) retention, which was ameliorated in GluN2B(-/-) cortical neurons, largely implicating the involvement of this NMDAR subunit. Moreover, pharmacologic inhibition of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) inositol-1,4,5-triphosphate receptor (IP3R) and mitCa(2+) uniporter (MCU) evidenced that Aβ + NMDA-induced mitCa(2+) rise involves ER Ca(2+) release through IP3R and mitochondrial entry by the MCU. Altogether, data highlight mitCa(2+) dyshomeostasis and subsequent dysfunction as mechanisms relevant for early neuronal dysfunction in AD linked to Aβ-mediated GluN2B-composed NMDARs activation.