Neuronal tetraploidization in the cerebral cortex correlates with reduced cognition in mice and precedes and recapitulates Alzheimer's-associated neuropathology

Neurobiol Aging. 2017 Aug;56:50-66. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.04.008. Epub 2017 Apr 18.


A controversy exists as to whether de novo-generated neuronal tetraploidy (dnNT) occurs in Alzheimer's disease. In addition, the presence of age-associated dnNT in the normal brain remains unexplored. Here we show that age-associated dnNT occurs in both superficial and deep layers of the cerebral cortex of adult mice, a process that is blocked in the absence of E2F1, a known regulator of cell cycle progression. This blockage correlates with improved cognition despite compromised neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus was confirmed in mice lacking the E2f1 gene. We also show that the human cerebral cortex contains tetraploid neurons. In normal humans, age-associated dnNT specifically occurs in the entorhinal cortex whereas, in Alzheimer, dnNT also affects association cortices prior to neurofibrillary tangle formation. Alzheimer-associated dnNT is likely potentiated by altered amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing as it is enhanced in the cerebral cortex of young APPswe/PS1deltaE9 mice, long before the first amyloid plaques are visible in their brains. In contrast to age-associated dnNT, enhanced dnNT in APPswe/PS1deltaE9 mice mostly affects the superficial cortical layers. The correlation of dnNT with reduced cognition in mice and its spatiotemporal course, preceding and recapitulating Alzheimer-associated neuropathology, makes this process a potential target for intervention in Alzheimer's disease.

Keywords: DNA content; E2F1; FISH; Flow cytometry; Memory; β-Amyloid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • E2F1 Transcription Factor / physiology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / genetics
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology
  • Neurogenesis / genetics
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Tetraploidy*


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • E2F1 Transcription Factor
  • E2F1 protein, human