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Neuroscience. 2010 Nov 24;171(1):92-105. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.08.001. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Astroglial connexin immunoreactivity is specifically altered at β-amyloid plaques in β-amyloid precursor protein/presenilin1 mice.

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INSERM, U840, Collège de France, 11 Place Marcelin Berthelot, 75005 Paris, France.


Activation of astrocytes surrounding amyloid plaques is a hallmark of Alzheimer disease (AD) with consequences yet poorly understood. Astrocytes are characterized by a high level of intercellular communication mediated by two gap-junction forming proteins, connexin-43 and connexin-30. As astroglial connexins (Cxs) are involved in neuronal dysfunctions and death, we have analyzed their expression pattern in two murine models of AD, that is two different β-amyloid precursor protein (APP)/presenilin1(PS1) mice, using western blot and immunohistochemistry analyzed in confocal microscopy. In young mice at 2 months, before the emergence of β-amyloid (Aβ) deposits, the distribution of both Cxs was similar to that of control mice. In older animals≥4 months, local modifications in connexin immunostaining pattern were observed in the microenvironment of dense core Aβ plaques. In a majority of plaques, an elevated immunoreactivity was detected for both Cxs contributing to the overall increase in connexin expression detected in 18 month old APP/PS1 mice. Activated microglial cells did not contribute to the elevated connexin immunoreactivity that was concentrated in astroglial processes infiltrating the plaques. In a small proportion of plaques (≤15%) a depletion of immunoreactive connexin puncta was also found. As astroglial Cxs participate in neuroglial interactions, their remodeling may contribute to neuronal alterations observed at the periplaque area.

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