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Terminal complement pathway activation drives synaptic Loss in Alzheimer’s disease models

Carpanini, Sarah M., Torvell, Megan, Bevan, Ryan J. ORCID:, Byrne, Robert A. J., Daskoulidou, Nikoleta, Saido, Takaomi C., Taylor, Philip R. ORCID:, Hughes, Timothy R. ORCID:, Zelek, Wioleta M. and Morgan, B. Paul ORCID: 2022. Terminal complement pathway activation drives synaptic Loss in Alzheimer’s disease models. Acta Neuropathologica Communications 10 , 99. 10.1186/s40478-022-01404-w

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Complement is involved in developmental synaptic pruning and pathological synapse loss in Alzheimer’s disease. It is posited that C1 binding initiates complement activation on synapses; C3 fragments then tag them for microglial phagocytosis. However, the precise mechanisms of complement-mediated synaptic loss remain unclear, and the role of the lytic membrane attack complex (MAC) is unexplored. We here address several knowledge gaps: (i) is complement activated through to MAC at the synapse? (ii) does MAC contribute to synaptic loss? (iii) can MAC inhibition prevent synaptic loss? Novel methods were developed and optimised to quantify C1q, C3 fragments and MAC in total and regional brain homogenates and synaptoneurosomes from WT and AppNL−G−F Alzheimer’s disease model mouse brains at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of age. The impact on synapse loss of systemic treatment with a MAC blocking antibody and gene knockout of a MAC component was assessed in Alzheimer’s disease model mice. A significant increase in C1q, C3 fragments and MAC was observed in AppNL−G−F mice compared to controls, increasing with age and severity. Administration of anti-C7 antibody to AppNL−G−F mice modulated synapse loss, reflected by the density of dendritic spines in the vicinity of plaques. Constitutive knockout of C6 significantly reduced synapse loss in 3xTg-AD mice. We demonstrate that complement dysregulation occurs in Alzheimer’s disease mice involving the activation (C1q; C3b/iC3b) and terminal (MAC) pathways in brain areas associated with pathology. Inhibition or ablation of MAC formation reduced synapse loss in two Alzheimer’s disease mouse models, demonstrating that MAC formation is a driver of synapse loss. We suggest that MAC directly damages synapses, analogous to neuromuscular junction destruction in myasthenia gravis.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: BioMed Central
ISSN: 2051-5960
Funders: MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 June 2022
Date of Acceptance: 29 June 2022
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 19:54

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