Journal of neuroinflammation

Tauopathy in transgenic (SHR72) rats impairs function of central noradrenergic system and promotes neuroinflammation.

PMID 26792515


Brain norepinephrine (NE) plays an important role in the modulation of stress response and neuroinflammation. Recent studies indicate that in Alzheimer's disease (AD), the tau neuropathology begins in the locus coeruleus (LC) which is the main source of brain NE. Therefore, we investigated the changes in brain NE system and also the immune status under basal and stress conditions in transgenic rats over-expressing the human truncated tau protein. Brainstem catecholaminergic cell groups (LC, A1, and A2) and forebrain subcortical (nucleus basalis of Meynert), hippocampal (cornu ammonis, dentate gyrus), and neocortical areas (frontal and temporal association cortices) were analyzed for NE and interleukin 6 (IL-6) mRNA levels in unstressed rats and also in rats exposed to single or repeated immobilization. Moreover, gene expression of NE-biosynthetic enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), and several pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators were determined in the LC. It was found that tauopathy reduced basal NE levels in forebrain areas, while the gene expression of IL-6 was increased in all selected areas at the same time. The differences between wild-type and transgenic rats in brain NE and IL-6 mRNA levels were observed in stressed animals as well. Tauopathy increased also the gene expression of TH in the LC. In addition, the LC exhibited exaggerated expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators (IL-6, TNFα, inducible nitric oxide synthases 2 (iNOS2), and interleukin 10 (IL-10)) in transgenic rats suggesting that tauopathy affects also the immune background in LC. Positive correlation between NE and IL-6 mRNA levels in cornu ammonis in stressed transgenic animals indicated the reduction of anti-inflammatory effect of NE. Our data thus showed that tauopathy alters the functions of LC further leading to the reduction of NE levels and exaggeration of neuroinflammation in forebrain. These findings support the assumption that tau-related dysfunction of LC activates the vicious circle perpetuating neurodegeneration leading to the development of AD.