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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 May 7;110(19):7904-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1217938110. Epub 2013 Apr 22.

Rapid cell death is preceded by amyloid plaque-mediated oxidative stress.

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MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Neuronal loss is the ultimate outcome in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases and central nerve system disorders. Understanding the sequelae of events that leads to cell death would provide insight into neuroprotective approaches. We imaged neurons in the living brain of a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease that overexpresses mutant human amyloid precursor protein and presenilin 1 and followed the death of individual neurons in real time. This mouse model exhibited limited neurodegeneration and atrophy, but we were able to identify a small fraction of vulnerable cells that would not have been detectable by using standard approaches. By exploiting a genetically encoded reporter of oxidative stress, we identified susceptible neurons by their increased redox potential. The oxidative stress was most dramatic in neurites near plaques, propagated to cell bodies, and preceded activation of caspases that led to cell death within 24 h. Thus, local oxidative stress surrounding plaques contributes to long-range toxicity and selective neuronal death in Alzheimer's disease.


in vivo imaging; reduction-oxidation sensitive GFP

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