Interactions of the presynaptic proteins, neuronal pentraxin 2 (NPTX2) and neurexin 2α (NRXN2α), with their respective postsynaptic functional partners, GluA4-containing glutamate (AMPA4) receptor and neuroligin 1 (NLGN1), enhance excitatory synaptic activity in some areas of the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. As early damage of such excitatory circuits in the brain tissues of participants with Alzheimer's disease (AD) correlates with cognitive losses, plasma neuron-derived exosome (NDE) levels of these 2 pairs of specialized synaptic proteins were quantified to assess their biomarker characteristics. The NDE contents of all 4 proteins were decreased significantly in AD dementia ( n = 46), and diminished levels of AMPA4 and NLGN1 correlated with the extent of cognitive loss. In a preclinical period, 6-11 yr before the onset of dementia, the NDE levels of all but NPTX2 were significantly lower than those of matched controls, and levels of all proteins declined significantly with the development of dementia. Reductions in NDE levels of these specialized excitatory synaptic proteins may therefore be indicative of the extent of cognitive loss and may reflect progression of the severity of AD.-Goetzl, E. J., Abner, E. L., Jicha, G. A., Kapogiannis, D., Schwartz, J. B. Declining levels of functionally specialized synaptic proteins in plasma neuronal exosomes with progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Keywords: biomarkers; dementia; neurodegeneration.