Involvement of Oligodendrocytes in Tau Seeding and Spreading in Tauopathies

Front Aging Neurosci. 2019 May 28;11:112. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2019.00112. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: Human tau seeding and spreading occur following intracerebral inoculation into different gray matter regions of brain homogenates obtained from tauopathies in transgenic mice expressing wild or mutant tau, and in wild-type (WT) mice. However, little is known about tau propagation following inoculation in the white matter. Objectives: The present study is geared to learning about the patterns of tau seeding and cells involved following unilateral inoculation in the corpus callosum of homogenates from sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD), primary age-related tauopathy (PART: neuronal 4Rtau and 3Rtau), pure aging-related tau astrogliopathy (ARTAG: astroglial 4Rtau with thorn-shaped astrocytes TSAs), globular glial tauopathy (GGT: 4Rtau with neuronal tau and specific tau inclusions in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, GAIs and GOIs, respectively), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP: 4Rtau with neuronal inclusions, tufted astrocytes and coiled bodies), Pick's disease (PiD: 3Rtau with characteristic Pick bodies in neurons and tau containing fibrillar astrocytes), and frontotemporal lobar degeneration linked to P301L mutation (FTLD-P301L: 4Rtau familial tauopathy). Methods: Adult WT mice were inoculated unilaterally in the lateral corpus callosum with sarkosyl-insoluble fractions or with sarkosyl-soluble fractions from the mentioned tauopathies; mice were killed from 4 to 7 months after inoculation. Brains were fixed in paraformaldehyde, embedded in paraffin and processed for immunohistochemistry. Results: Tau seeding occurred in the ipsilateral corpus callosum and was also detected in the contralateral corpus callosum. Phospho-tau deposits were found in oligodendrocytes similar to coiled bodies and in threads. Moreover, tau deposits co-localized with active (phosphorylated) tau kinases p38 and ERK 1/2, suggesting active tau phosphorylation of murine tau. TSAs, GAIs, GOIs, tufted astrocytes, and tau-containing fibrillar astrocytes were not seen in any case. Tau deposits were often associated with slight myelin disruption and the presence of small PLP1-immunoreactive globules and dots in the ipsilateral corpus callosum 6 months after inoculation of sarkosyl-insoluble fractions from every tauopathy. Conclusions: Seeding and spreading of human tau in the corpus callosum of WT mice occurs in oligodendrocytes, thereby supporting the idea of a role of oligodendrogliopathy in tau seeding and spreading in the white matter in tauopathies. Slight differences in the predominance of threads or oligodendroglial deposits suggest disease differences in the capacity of tau seeding and spreading among tauopathies.

Keywords: AD; ARTAG; GGT; PiD; seeding and spreading; tau; tauopathies.