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Nat Med. 2018 Jan;24(1):29-38. doi: 10.1038/nm.4443. Epub 2017 Dec 4.

Amyloid-β plaques enhance Alzheimer's brain tau-seeded pathologies by facilitating neuritic plaque tau aggregation.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Institute on Aging and Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Division of Neurology, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Departments of Neuroscience and of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Iowa Neuroscience Institute and Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by extracellular amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and intracellular tau inclusions. However, the exact mechanistic link between these two AD lesions remains enigmatic. Through injection of human AD-brain-derived pathological tau (AD-tau) into Aβ plaque-bearing mouse models that do not overexpress tau, we recapitulated the formation of three major types of AD-relevant tau pathologies: tau aggregates in dystrophic neurites surrounding Aβ plaques (NP tau), AD-like neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and neuropil threads (NTs). These distinct tau pathologies have different temporal onsets and functional consequences on neural activity and behavior. Notably, we found that Aβ plaques created a unique environment that facilitated the rapid amplification of proteopathic AD-tau seeds into large tau aggregates, initially appearing as NP tau, which was followed by the formation and spread of NFTs and NTs, likely through secondary seeding events. Our study provides insights into a new multistep mechanism underlying Aβ plaque-associated tau pathogenesis.

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