Academic Appointments

Honors & Awards

  • K99 Pathway to Independence Award, NIA/NIH (2016)
  • Predoctoral NRSA, NIA/NIH (2009 - 2012)
  • 34th Annual James L. O'Leary Prize, Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology (2011)
  • Dean's Postdoctoral Fellowship (awarded), Stanford University (2013 - 2014)
  • Postdoctoral NRSA (awarded), NIA/NIH (2013 - 2016)
  • Child Health Research Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship (accepted), NIH/Lucile Packard Foundation/Stanford CHRI (2013 - 2014)
  • Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellowship (accepted), Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund (2013 - 2016)
  • 2015 New Vision Award, Donor's Cure Foundation, Charleston Conference on Alzheimer's disease (2015 - 2016)

All Publications

  • Human umbilical cord plasma proteins revitalize hippocampal function in aged mice NATURE Castellano, J. M., Mosher, K. I., Abbey, R. J., McBride, A. A., James, M. L., Berdnik, D., Shen, J. C., Zou, B., Xie, X. S., Tingle, M., Hinkson, I. V., Angst, M. S., Wyss-Coray, T. 2017; 544 (7651): 488-?


    Ageing drives changes in neuronal and cognitive function, the decline of which is a major feature of many neurological disorders. The hippocampus, a brain region subserving roles of spatial and episodic memory and learning, is sensitive to the detrimental effects of ageing at morphological and molecular levels. With advancing age, synapses in various hippocampal subfields exhibit impaired long-term potentiation, an electrophysiological correlate of learning and memory. At the molecular level, immediate early genes are among the synaptic plasticity genes that are both induced by long-term potentiation and downregulated in the aged brain. In addition to revitalizing other aged tissues, exposure to factors in young blood counteracts age-related changes in these central nervous system parameters, although the identities of specific cognition-promoting factors or whether such activity exists in human plasma remains unknown. We hypothesized that plasma of an early developmental stage, namely umbilical cord plasma, provides a reservoir of such plasticity-promoting proteins. Here we show that human cord plasma treatment revitalizes the hippocampus and improves cognitive function in aged mice. Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases 2 (TIMP2), a blood-borne factor enriched in human cord plasma, young mouse plasma, and young mouse hippocampi, appears in the brain after systemic administration and increases synaptic plasticity and hippocampal-dependent cognition in aged mice. Depletion experiments in aged mice revealed TIMP2 to be necessary for the cognitive benefits conferred by cord plasma. We find that systemic pools of TIMP2 are necessary for spatial memory in young mice, while treatment of brain slices with TIMP2 antibody prevents long-term potentiation, arguing for previously unknown roles for TIMP2 in normal hippocampal function. Our findings reveal that human cord plasma contains plasticity-enhancing proteins of high translational value for targeting ageing- or disease-associated hippocampal dysfunction.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature22067

    View details for Web of Science ID 000400051900045

    View details for PubMedID 28424512

  • Microglial complement receptor 3 regulates brain A beta levels through secreted proteolytic activity JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL MEDICINE Czirr, E., Castello, N. A., Mosher, K. I., Castellano, J. M., Hinkson, I. V., Lucin, K. M., Baeza-Raja, B., Ryu, J. K., Li, L., Farina, S. N., Belichenko, N. P., Longo, F. M., Akassoglou, K., Britschgi, M., Cirrito, J. R., Wyss-Coray, T. 2017; 214 (4): 1081-1092


    Recent genetic evidence supports a link between microglia and the complement system in Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this study, we uncovered a novel role for the microglial complement receptor 3 (CR3) in the regulation of soluble β-amyloid (Aβ) clearance independent of phagocytosis. Unexpectedly, ablation of CR3 in human amyloid precursor protein-transgenic mice results in decreased, rather than increased, Aβ accumulation. In line with these findings, cultured microglia lacking CR3 are more efficient than wild-type cells at degrading extracellular Aβ by secreting enzymatic factors, including tissue plasminogen activator. Furthermore, a small molecule modulator of CR3 reduces soluble Aβ levels and Aβ half-life in brain interstitial fluid (ISF), as measured by in vivo microdialysis. These results suggest that CR3 limits Aβ clearance from the ISF, illustrating a novel role for CR3 and microglia in brain Aβ metabolism and defining a potential new therapeutic target in AD.

    View details for DOI 10.1084/jem.20162011

    View details for Web of Science ID 000398051100015

    View details for PubMedID 28298456

  • Traumatic Brain Injury Imaging in the Second Near-Infrared Window with a Molecular Fluorophore. Advanced materials Zhang, X., Wang, H., Antaris, A. L., Li, L., Diao, S., Ma, R., Nguyen, A., Hong, G., Ma, Z., Wang, J., Zhu, S., Castellano, J. M., Wyss-Coray, T., Liang, Y., Luo, J., Dai, H. 2016; 28 (32): 6872-6879


    Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. A bright, renal-excreted, and biocompatible near-infrared II fluorophore for in vivo imaging of TBI is designed. A transient hypoperfusion in the injured cerebral region, followed by fluorophore leakage, is observed. NIR-II fluorophores can provide noninvasive assessment of TBI.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/adma.201600706

    View details for PubMedID 27253071

  • In vivo assessment of behavioral recovery and circulatory exchange in the peritoneal parabiosis model SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Castellano, J. M., Palner, M., Li, S., Freeman, G. M., Andy Nguyen, A., Shen, B., Stan, T., Mosher, K. I., Chin, F. T., de Lecea, L., Luo, J., Wyss-Coray, T. 2016; 6


    The sharing of circulation between two animals using a surgical procedure known as parabiosis has created a wealth of information towards our understanding of physiology, most recently in the neuroscience arena. The systemic milieu is a complex reservoir of tissues, immune cells, and circulating molecules that is surprisingly not well understood in terms of its communication across organ systems. While the model has been used to probe complex physiological questions for many years, critical parameters of recovery and exchange kinetics remain incompletely characterized, limiting the ability to design experiments and interpret results for complex questions. Here we provide evidence that mice joined by parabiosis gradually recover much physiology relevant to the study of brain function. Specifically, we describe the timecourse for a variety of recovery parameters, including those for general health and metabolism, motor coordination, activity, and sleep behavior. Finally, we describe the kinetics of chimerism for several lymphocyte populations as well as the uptake of small molecules into the brains of mice following parabiosis. Our characterization provides an important resource to those attempting to understand the complex interplay between the immune system and the brain as well as other organ systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/srep29015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000378851500002

    View details for PubMedID 27364522

  • Blood-Borne Revitalization of the Aged Brain JAMA NEUROLOGY Castellano, J. M., Kirby, E. D., Wyss-Coray, T. 2015; 72 (10): 1191-1194


    In the modern medical era, more diverse and effective treatment options have translated to increased life expectancy. With this increased life span comes increased age-associated disease and the dire need to understand underlying causes so that therapies can be designed to mitigate the burden to health and the economy. Aging exacts a seemingly inevitable multisystem deterioration of function that acts as a risk factor for a variety of age-related disorders, including those that devastate organs of limited regenerative potential, such as the brain. Rather than studying the brain and mechanisms that govern its aging in isolation from other organ systems, an emerging approach is to understand the relatively unappreciated communication that exists between the brain and systemic environment. Revisiting classical methods of experimental physiology in animal models has uncovered surprising regenerative activity in young blood with translational implications for the aging liver, muscle, brain, and other organs. Soluble factors present in young or aged blood are sufficient to improve or impair cognitive function, respectively, suggesting an aging continuum of brain-relevant systemic factors. The age-associated plasma chemokine CCL11 has been shown to impair young brain function while GDF11 has been reported to increase the generation of neurons in aged mice. However, the identities of specific factors mediating memory-enhancing effects of young blood and their mechanisms of action are enigmatic. Here we review brain rejuvenation studies in the broader context of systemic rejuvenation research. We discuss putative mechanisms for blood-borne brain rejuvenation and suggest promising avenues for future research and development of therapies.

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.1616

    View details for Web of Science ID 000362963000016

    View details for PubMedID 26237737

  • CalFluors: A Universal Motif for Fluorogenic Azide Probes across the Visible Spectrum JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Shieh, P., Dien, V. T., Beahm, B. J., Castellano, J. M., Wyss-Coray, T., Bertozzi, C. R. 2015; 137 (22): 7145-7151


    Fluorescent bioorthogonal smart probes across the visible spectrum will enable sensitive visualization of metabolically labeled molecules in biological systems. Here we present a unified design, based on the principle of photoinduced electron transfer, to access a panel of highly fluorogenic azide probes that are activated by conversion to the corresponding triazoles via click chemistry. Termed the CalFluors, these probes possess emission maxima that range from green to far red wavelengths, and enable sensitive biomolecule detection under no-wash conditions. We used the CalFluor probes to image various alkyne-labeled biomolecules (glycans, DNA, RNA, and proteins) in cells, developing zebrafish, and mouse brain tissue slices.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jacs.5b02383

    View details for Web of Science ID 000356322300038

    View details for PubMedID 25902190

  • Aging-induced type I interferon response at the choroid plexus negatively affects brain function SCIENCE Baruch, K., Deczkowska, A., David, E., Castellano, J. M., Miller, O., Kertser, A., Berkutzki, T., Barnett-Itzhaki, Z., Bezalel, D., Wyss-Coray, T., Amit, I., Schwartz, M. 2014; 346 (6205): 89-93
  • Effects of the Absence of Apolipoprotein E on Lipoproteins, Neurocognitive Function, and Retinal Function JAMA NEUROLOGY Mak, A. C., Pullinger, C. R., Tang, L. F., Wong, J. S., Deo, R. C., Schwarz, J., Gugliucci, A., Movsesyan, I., Ishida, B. Y., Chu, C., Poon, A., Kim, P., Stock, E. O., Schaefer, E. J., Asztalos, B. F., Castellano, J. M., Wyss-Coray, T., Duncan, J. L., Miller, B. L., Kane, J. P., Kwok, P., Malloy, M. J. 2014; 71 (10): 1228-1236
  • Young blood reverses age-related impairments in cognitive function and synaptic plasticity in mice. Nature medicine Villeda, S. A., Plambeck, K. E., Middeldorp, J., Castellano, J. M., Mosher, K. I., Luo, J., Smith, L. K., Bieri, G., Lin, K., Berdnik, D., Wabl, R., Udeochu, J., Wheatley, E. G., Zou, B., Simmons, D. A., Xie, X. S., Longo, F. M., Wyss-Coray, T. 2014; 20 (6): 659-663


    As human lifespan increases, a greater fraction of the population is suffering from age-related cognitive impairments, making it important to elucidate a means to combat the effects of aging. Here we report that exposure of an aged animal to young blood can counteract and reverse pre-existing effects of brain aging at the molecular, structural, functional and cognitive level. Genome-wide microarray analysis of heterochronic parabionts--in which circulatory systems of young and aged animals are connected--identified synaptic plasticity-related transcriptional changes in the hippocampus of aged mice. Dendritic spine density of mature neurons increased and synaptic plasticity improved in the hippocampus of aged heterochronic parabionts. At the cognitive level, systemic administration of young blood plasma into aged mice improved age-related cognitive impairments in both contextual fear conditioning and spatial learning and memory. Structural and cognitive enhancements elicited by exposure to young blood are mediated, in part, by activation of the cyclic AMP response element binding protein (Creb) in the aged hippocampus. Our data indicate that exposure of aged mice to young blood late in life is capable of rejuvenating synaptic plasticity and improving cognitive function.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nm.3569

    View details for PubMedID 24793238

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4224436

  • Long-term cognitive impairments and pathological alterations in a mouse model of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury FRONTIERS IN NEUROLOGY Luo, J., Nguyen, A., Villeda, S., Zhang, H., Ding, Z., Lindsey, D., Bieri, G., Castellano, J. M., Beaupre, G. S., Wyss-Coray, T. 2014; 5
  • ApoE influences amyloid-ß (Aß) clearance despite minimal apoE/Aß association in physiological conditions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Verghese, P. B., Castellano, J. M., Garai, K., Wang, Y., Jiang, H., Shah, A., Bu, G., Frieden, C., Holtzman, D. M. 2013; 110 (19): E1807-16


    Apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) alleles may shift the onset of Alzheimer's disease (AD) through apoE protein isoforms changing the probability of amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation. It has been proposed that differential physical interactions of apoE isoforms with soluble Aβ (sAβ) in brain fluids influence the metabolism of Aβ, providing a mechanism to account for how APOE influences AD risk. In contrast, we provide clear evidence that apoE and sAβ interactions occur minimally in solution and in the cerebrospinal fluid of human subjects, producing apoE3 and apoE4 isoforms as assessed by multiple biochemical and analytical techniques. Despite minimal extracellular interactions with sAβ in fluid, we find that apoE isoforms regulate the metabolism of sAβ by astrocytes and in the interstitial fluid of mice that received apoE infusions during brain Aβ microdialysis. We find that a significant portion of apoE and sAβ compete for the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1)-dependent cellular uptake pathway in astrocytes, providing a mechanism to account for apoE's regulation of sAβ metabolism despite minimal evidence of direct interactions in extracellular fluids. We propose that apoE influences sAβ metabolism not through direct binding to sAβ in solution but through its actions with other interacting receptors/transporters and cell surfaces. These results provide an alternative frame work for the mechanistic explanations on how apoE isoforms influence the risk of AD pathogenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1220484110

    View details for PubMedID 23620513

  • In vivo measurement of apolipoprotein E from the brain interstitial fluid using microdialysis MOLECULAR NEURODEGENERATION Ulrich, J. D., Burchett, J. M., Restivo, J. L., Schuler, D. R., Verghese, P. B., Mahan, T. E., Landreth, G. E., Castellano, J. M., Jiang, H., Cirrito, J. R., Holtzman, D. M. 2013; 8


    The APOE4 allele variant is the strongest known genetic risk factor for developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease. The link between apolipoprotein E (apoE) and Alzheimer's disease is likely due in large part to the impact of apoE on the metabolism of amyloid β (Aβ) within the brain. Manipulation of apoE levels and lipidation within the brain has been proposed as a therapeutic target for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. However, we know little about the dynamic regulation of apoE levels and lipidation within the central nervous system. We have developed an assay to measure apoE levels in the brain interstitial fluid of awake and freely moving mice using large molecular weight cut-off microdialysis probes.We were able to recover apoE using microdialysis from human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in vitro and mouse brain parenchyma in vivo. Microdialysis probes were inserted into the hippocampus of wild-type mice and interstitial fluid was collected for 36 hours. Levels of apoE within the microdialysis samples were determined by ELISA. The levels of apoE were found to be relatively stable over 36 hours. No apoE was detected in microdialysis samples from apoE KO mice. Administration of the RXR agonist bexarotene increased ISF apoE levels while ISF Aβ levels were decreased. Extrapolation to zero-flow analysis allowed us to determine the absolute recoverable concentration of apoE3 in the brain ISF of apoE3 KI mice. Furthermore, analysis of microdialysis samples by non-denaturing gel electrophoresis determined lipidated apoE particles in microdialysis samples were consistent in size with apoE particles from CSF. Finally, we found that the concentration of apoE in the brain ISF was dependent upon apoE isoform in human apoE KI mice, following the pattern apoE2>apoE3>apoE4.We are able to collect lipidated apoE from the brain of awake and freely moving mice and monitor apoE levels over the course of several hours from a single mouse. Our technique enables assessment of brain apoE dynamics under physiological and pathophysiological conditions and in response to therapeutic interventions designed to affect apoE levels and lipidation within the brain.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/1750-1326-8-13

    View details for Web of Science ID 000318657400001

    View details for PubMedID 23601557

  • Low-density lipoprotein receptor overexpression enhances the rate of brain-to-blood A beta clearance in a mouse model of beta-amyloidosis PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Castellano, J. M., Deane, R., Gottesdiener, A. J., Verghese, P. B., Stewart, F. R., West, T., Paoletti, A. C., Kasper, T. R., DeMattos, R. B., Zlokovic, B. V., Holtzman, D. M. 2012; 109 (38): 15502-15507


    The apolipoprotein E (APOE)-ε4 allele is the strongest genetic risk factor for late-onset, sporadic Alzheimer's disease, likely increasing risk by altering amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation. We recently demonstrated that the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) is a major apoE receptor in the brain that strongly regulates amyloid plaque deposition. In the current study, we sought to understand the mechanism by which LDLR regulates Aβ accumulation by altering Aβ clearance from brain interstitial fluid. We hypothesized that increasing LDLR levels enhances blood-brain barrier-mediated Aβ clearance, thus leading to reduced Aβ accumulation. Using the brain Aβ efflux index method, we found that blood-brain barrier-mediated clearance of exogenously administered Aβ is enhanced with LDLR overexpression. We next developed a method to directly assess the elimination of centrally derived, endogenous Aβ into the plasma of mice using an anti-Aβ antibody that prevents degradation of plasma Aβ, allowing its rate of appearance from the brain to be measured. Using this plasma Aβ accumulation technique, we found that LDLR overexpression enhances brain-to-blood Aβ transport. Together, our results suggest a unique mechanism by which LDLR regulates brain-to-blood Aβ clearance, which may serve as a useful therapeutic avenue in targeting Aβ clearance from the brain.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1206446109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000309211000085

    View details for PubMedID 22927427

  • Human apoE Isoforms Differentially Regulate Brain Amyloid-beta Peptide Clearance SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE Castellano, J. M., Kim, J., Stewart, F. R., Jiang, H., DeMattos, R. B., Patterson, B. W., Fagan, A. M., Morris, J. C., Mawuenyega, K. G., Cruchaga, C., Goate, A. M., Bales, K. R., Paul, S. M., Bateman, R. J., Holtzman, D. M. 2011; 3 (89)


    The apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele is the strongest genetic risk factor for late-onset, sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD). The APOE ε4 allele markedly increases AD risk and decreases age of onset, likely through its strong effect on the accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide. In contrast, the APOE ε2 allele appears to decrease AD risk. Most rare, early-onset forms of familial AD are caused by autosomal dominant mutations that often lead to overproduction of Aβ(42) peptide. However, the mechanism by which APOE alleles differentially modulate Aβ accumulation in sporadic, late-onset AD is less clear. In a cohort of cognitively normal individuals, we report that reliable molecular and neuroimaging biomarkers of cerebral Aβ deposition vary in an apoE isoform-dependent manner. We hypothesized that human apoE isoforms differentially affect Aβ clearance or synthesis in vivo, resulting in an apoE isoform-dependent pattern of Aβ accumulation later in life. Performing in vivo microdialysis in a mouse model of Aβ-amyloidosis expressing human apoE isoforms (PDAPP/TRE), we find that the concentration and clearance of soluble Aβ in the brain interstitial fluid depends on the isoform of apoE expressed. This pattern parallels the extent of Aβ deposition observed in aged PDAPP/TRE mice. ApoE isoform-dependent differences in soluble Aβ metabolism are observed not only in aged but also in young PDAPP/TRE mice well before the onset of Aβ deposition in amyloid plaques in the brain. Additionally, amyloidogenic processing of amyloid precursor protein and Aβ synthesis, as assessed by in vivo stable isotopic labeling kinetics, do not vary according to apoE isoform in young PDAPP/TRE mice. Our results suggest that APOE alleles contribute to AD risk by differentially regulating clearance of Aβ from the brain, suggesting that Aβ clearance pathways may be useful therapeutic targets for AD prevention.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002156

    View details for Web of Science ID 000292982100004

    View details for PubMedID 21715678

  • Apolipoprotein E in Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders LANCET NEUROLOGY Verghese, P. B., Castellano, J. M., Holtzman, D. M. 2011; 10 (3): 241-252


    Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is a 299-aminoacid protein encoded by the APOE gene. Three common polymorphisms in the APOE gene, ɛ2, ɛ3, and ɛ4, result in a single aminoacid change in the APOE protein. APOE ɛ2, ɛ3, and ɛ4 alleles strongly alter, in a dose-dependent manner, the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. In particular, APOE ɛ4 is associated with increased risk for Alzheimer's disease whereas APOE ɛ2 is associated with decreased risk. The effects of APOE genotype on risk of these diseases are likely to be mediated by differential effects of APOE on amyloid-β accumulation in the brain and its vasculature. Response to treatment for Alzheimer's disease might differ according to APOE genotype. Because convincing evidence ties the APOE genotype to risk of Alzheimer's disease and cerebral amyloid angiopathy, APOE has been studied in other neurological diseases. APOE ɛ4 is associated with poor outcome after traumatic brain injury and brain haemorrhage, although the mechanisms underlying these associations are unclear. The possibility that APOE has a role in these and other neurological diseases has been of great interest, but convincing associations have not yet emerged.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000288482200012

    View details for PubMedID 21349439

  • Overexpression of Low-Density Lipoprotein Receptor in the Brain Markedly Inhibits Amyloid Deposition and Increases Extracellular A beta Clearance NEURON Kim, J., Castellano, J. M., Jiang, H., Basak, J. M., Parsadanian, M., Pham, V., Mason, S. M., Paul, S. M., Holtzman, D. M. 2009; 64 (5): 632-644


    Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Previous studies suggest that the effect of apoE on amyloid-beta (A beta) accumulation plays a major role in AD pathogenesis. Therefore, understanding proteins that control apoE metabolism may provide new targets for regulating A beta levels. LDLR, a member of the LDL receptor family, binds to apoE, yet its potential role in AD pathogenesis remains unclear. We hypothesized that LDLR overexpression in the brain would decrease apoE levels, enhance A beta clearance, and decrease A beta deposition. To test our hypothesis, we created several transgenic mice that overexpress LDLR in the brain and found that apoE levels in these mice decreased by 50%-90%. Furthermore, LDLR overexpression dramatically reduced A beta aggregation and enhanced A beta clearance from the brain extracellular space. Plaque-associated neuroinflammatory responses were attenuated in LDLR transgenic mice. These findings suggest that increasing LDLR levels may represent a novel AD treatment strategy.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.11.013

    View details for Web of Science ID 000273123700010

    View details for PubMedID 20005821