Bachelor of Science, Wuhan University (2010)
Doctor of Philosophy, Yale University (2015)
Mark Schnitzer, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
TREM2 Haplodeficiency in Mice and Humans Impairs the Microglia Barrier Function Leading to Decreased Amyloid Compaction and Severe Axonal Dystrophy.
2016; 90 (4): 724–39
Haplodeficiency of the microglia gene TREM2 increases risk for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) but the mechanisms remain uncertain. To investigate this, we used high-resolution confocal and super-resolution (STORM) microscopy in AD-like mice and human AD tissue. We found that microglia processes, rich in TREM2, tightly surround early amyloid fibrils and plaques promoting their compaction and insulation. In Trem2- or DAP12-haplodeficient mice and in humans with R47H TREM2 mutations, microglia had a markedly reduced ability to envelop amyloid deposits. This led to an increase in less compact plaques with longer and branched amyloid fibrils resulting in greater surface exposure to adjacent neurites. This was associated with more severe neuritic tau hyperphosphorylation and axonal dystrophy around amyloid deposits. Thus, TREM2 deficiency may disrupt the formation of a neuroprotective microglia barrier that regulates amyloid compaction and insulation. Pharmacological modulation of this barrier could be a novel therapeutic strategy for AD.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.05.003
View details for PubMedID 27196974
Attenuation of beta-Amyloid Deposition and Neurotoxicity by Chemogenetic Modulation of Neural Activity
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE
2016; 36 (2): 632-641
Aberrant neural hyperactivity has been observed in early stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and may be a driving force in the progression of amyloid pathology. Evidence for this includes the findings that neural activity may modulate β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide secretion and experimental stimulation of neural activity can increase amyloid deposition. However, whether long-term attenuation of neural activity prevents the buildup of amyloid plaques and associated neural pathologies remains unknown. Using viral-mediated delivery of designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs), we show in two AD-like mouse models that chronic intermittent increases or reductions of activity have opposite effects on Aβ deposition. Neural activity reduction markedly decreases Aβ aggregation in regions containing axons or dendrites of DREADD-expressing neurons, suggesting the involvement of synaptic and nonsynaptic Aβ release mechanisms. Importantly, activity attenuation is associated with a reduction in axonal dystrophy and synaptic loss around amyloid plaques. Thus, modulation of neural activity could constitute a potential therapeutic strategy for ameliorating amyloid-induced pathology in AD.A novel chemogenetic approach to upregulate and downregulate neuronal activity in Alzheimer's disease (AD) mice was implemented. This led to the first demonstration that chronic intermittent attenuation of neuronal activity in vivo significantly reduces amyloid deposition. The study also demonstrates that modulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) release can occur at both axonal and dendritic fields, suggesting the involvement of synaptic and nonsynaptic Aβ release mechanisms. Activity reductions also led to attenuation of the synaptic pathology associated with amyloid plaques. Therefore, chronic attenuation of neuronal activity could constitute a novel therapeutic approach for AD.
View details for Web of Science ID 000368352600032
View details for PubMedID 26758850
Regional Blood Flow in the Normal and Ischemic Brain Is Controlled by Arteriolar Smooth Muscle Cell Contractility and Not by Capillary Pericytes
2015; 87 (1): 95-110
The precise regulation of cerebral blood flow is critical for normal brain function, and its disruption underlies many neuropathologies. The extent to which smooth muscle-covered arterioles or pericyte-covered capillaries control vasomotion during neurovascular coupling remains controversial. We found that capillary pericytes in mice and humans do not express smooth muscle actin and are morphologically and functionally distinct from adjacent precapillary smooth muscle cells (SMCs). Using optical imaging we investigated blood flow regulation at various sites on the vascular tree in living mice. Optogenetic, whisker stimulation, or cortical spreading depolarization caused microvascular diameter or flow changes in SMC but not pericyte-covered microvessels. During early stages of brain ischemia, transient SMC but not pericyte constrictions were a major cause of hypoperfusion leading to thrombosis and distal microvascular occlusions. Thus, capillary pericytes are not contractile, and regulation of cerebral blood flow in physiological and pathological conditions is mediated by arteriolar SMCs.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.06.001
View details for Web of Science ID 000360977400011
View details for PubMedID 26119027
Microglia constitute a barrier that prevents neurotoxic protofibrillar A beta 42 hotspots around plaques
In Alzheimer's disease (AD), β-amyloid (Aβ) plaques are tightly enveloped by microglia processes, but the significance of this phenomenon is unknown. Here we show that microglia constitute a barrier with profound impact on plaque composition and toxicity. Using high-resolution confocal and in vivo two-photon imaging in AD mouse models, we demonstrate that this barrier prevents outward plaque expansion and leads to compact plaque microregions with low Aβ42 affinity. Areas uncovered by microglia are less compact but have high Aβ42 affinity, leading to the formation of protofibrillar Aβ42 hotspots that are associated with more severe axonal dystrophy. In ageing, microglia coverage is reduced leading to enlarged protofibrillar Aβ42 hotspots and more severe neuritic dystrophy. CX3CR1 gene deletion or anti-Aβ immunotherapy causes expansion of microglia coverage and reduced neuritic dystrophy. Failure of the microglia barrier and the accumulation of neurotoxic protofibrillar Aβ hotspots may constitute novel therapeutic and clinical imaging targets for AD.
View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms7176
View details for Web of Science ID 000348833000004
View details for PubMedID 25630253