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J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;65(4):1109-1124. doi: 10.3233/JAD-180332.

Endocytosis and Transcytosis of Amyloid-β Peptides by Astrocytes: A Possible Mechanism for Amyloid-β Clearance in Alzheimer's Disease.

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Instituto de Neurociencias de Castilla y León, Universidad de Salamanca, Spain.


Amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides, Aβ40, Aβ42, and recently Aβ25 - 35, have been directly implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). We have previously shown that all three peptides decrease neuronal viability, but Aβ40 also promotes synaptic disassembling. In this work, we have studied the effects of these peptides on astrocytes in primary culture and found that the three Aβ peptides were internalized by astrocytes and significantly decreased astrocyte viability, while increasing ROS production. Aβ peptide internalization is temperature-dependent, a fact that supports the idea that Aβ peptides are actively endocytosed by astrocytes. However, inhibiting caveolae formation by methyl-beta-cyclodextrin or by silencing caveolin-1 with RNA interference did not prevent Aβ endocytosis, which suggests that Aβ peptides do not use caveolae to enter astrocytes. Conversely, inhibition of clathrin-coated vesicle formation by chlorpromazine or by silencing clathrin with RNA interference significantly decreased Aβ internalization and partially reverted the decrease of astrocyte viability caused by the presence of Aβ. These results suggest that Aβ is endocytosed by clathrin-coated vesicles in astrocytes. Aβ-loaded astrocytes, when co-incubated with non-treated astrocytes in separate wells but with the same incubation medium, promoted cell death in non-treated astrocytes; a fact that was associated with the presence of Aβ inside previously unloaded astrocytes. This phenomenon was inhibited by the presence of chlorpromazine in the co-incubation medium. These results suggest that astrocyte may perform Aβ transcytosis, a process that could play a role in the clearance of Aβ peptides from the brain to cerebrospinal fluid.


Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β ; astrocytes; clathrin-mediated endocytosis; transcytosis

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