Background: Despite diverging levels of amyloid-β (Aβ) and TAU pathology, different mouse models, as well as sporadic AD patients show predictable patterns of episodic memory loss. MicroRNA (miRNA) deregulation is well established in AD brain but it is unclear whether Aβ or TAU pathology drives those alterations and whether miRNA changes contribute to cognitive decline.
Methods: miRNAseq was performed on cognitively intact (4 months) and impaired (10 months) male APPtg (APPswe/PS1L166P) and TAUtg (THY-Tau22) mice and their wild-type littermates (APPwt and TAUwt). We analyzed the hippocampi of 12 mice per experimental group (n = 96 in total), and employed a 2-way linear model to extract differentially expressed miRNAs. Results were confirmed by qPCR in a separate cohort of 4 M and 10 M APPtg and APPwt mice (n = 7-9 per group) and in human sporadic AD and non-demented control brain. Fluorescent in situ hybridization identified their cellular expression. Functional annotation of predicted targets was performed using GO enrichment. Behavior of wild-type mice was assessed after intracerebroventricular infusion of miRNA mimics.
Results: Six miRNAs (miR-10a-5p, miR-142a-5p, miR-146a-5p, miR-155-5p, miR-211-5p, miR-455-5p) are commonly upregulated between APPtg and TAUtg mice, and four of these (miR-142a-5p, miR-146a-5p, miR-155-5p and miR-455-5p) are altered in AD patients. All 6 miRNAs are strongly enriched in neurons. Upregulating these miRNAs in wild-type mice is however not causing AD-related cognitive disturbances.
Conclusion: Diverging AD-related neuropathologies induce common disturbances in the expression of neuronal miRNAs. 4 of these miRNAs are also upregulated in AD patients. Therefore these 4 miRNAs (miR-142a-5p, miR-146a-5p, miR-155-5p and miR-455-5p) appear part of a core pathological process in AD patients and APPtg and TAUtg mice. They are however not causing cognitive disturbances in wild-type mice. As some of these miRNA target AD relevant proteins, they may be, in contrast, part of a protective response in AD.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; In situ hybridization; miR-mimic; miRNA-seq; microRNA.