Neuronal microRNA deregulation in response to Alzheimer's disease amyloid-beta

PLoS One. 2010 Jun 11;5(6):e11070. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011070.


Normal brain development and function depends on microRNA (miRNA) networks to fine tune the balance between the transcriptome and proteome of the cell. These small non-coding RNA regulators are highly enriched in brain where they play key roles in neuronal development, plasticity and disease. In neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), brain miRNA profiles are altered; thus miRNA dysfunction could be both a cause and a consequence of disease. Our study dissects the complexity of human AD pathology, and addresses the hypothesis that amyloid-beta (Abeta) itself, a known causative factor of AD, causes neuronal miRNA deregulation, which could contribute to the pathomechanisms of AD. We used sensitive TaqMan low density miRNA arrays (TLDA) on murine primary hippocampal cultures to show that about half of all miRNAs tested were down-regulated in response to Abeta peptides. Time-course assays of neuronal Abeta treatments show that Abeta is in fact a powerful regulator of miRNA levels as the response of certain mature miRNAs is extremely rapid. Bioinformatic analysis predicts that the deregulated miRNAs are likely to affect target genes present in prominent neuronal pathways known to be disrupted in AD. Remarkably, we also found that the miRNA deregulation in hippocampal cultures was paralleled in vivo by a deregulation in the hippocampus of Abeta42-depositing APP23 mice, at the onset of Abeta plaque formation. In addition, the miRNA deregulation in hippocampal cultures and APP23 hippocampus overlaps with those obtained in human AD studies. Taken together, our findings suggest that neuronal miRNA deregulation in response to an insult by Abeta may be an important factor contributing to the cascade of events leading to AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • RNA, Messenger