Decreased amyloid-β pathologies by intracerebral loading of glycosphingolipid-enriched exosomes in Alzheimer model mice

J Biol Chem. 2014 Aug 29;289(35):24488-98. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M114.577213. Epub 2014 Jul 18.


Elevated levels of amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) in the human brain are linked to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease. Recent in vitro studies have demonstrated that extracellular Aβ can bind to exosomes, which are cell-secreted nanovesicles with lipid membranes that are known to transport their cargos intercellularly. Such findings suggest that the exosomes are involved in Aβ metabolism in brain. Here, we found that neuroblastoma-derived exosomes exogenously injected into mouse brains trapped Aβ and with the associated Aβ were internalized into brain-resident phagocyte microglia. Accordingly, continuous intracerebral administration of the exosomes into amyloid-β precursor protein transgenic mice resulted in marked reductions in Aβ levels, amyloid depositions, and Aβ-mediated synaptotoxicity in the hippocampus. In addition, we determined that glycosphingolipids (GSLs), a group of membrane glycolipids, are highly abundant in the exosomes, and the enriched glycans of the GSLs are essential for Aβ binding and assembly on the exosomes both in vitro and in vivo. Our data demonstrate that intracerebrally administered exosomes can act as potent scavengers for Aβ by carrying it on the exosome surface GSLs and suggest a role of exosomes in Aβ clearance in the central nervous system. Improving Aβ clearance by exosome administration would provide a novel therapeutic intervention for Alzheimer disease.

Keywords: Alzheimer Disease; Amyloid-β (AB); Exosome; Glycolipid; Microglia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Glycosphingolipids / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microglia / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Glycosphingolipids