SIRT3 Haploinsufficiency Aggravates Loss of GABAergic Interneurons and Neuronal Network Hyperexcitability in an Alzheimer's Disease Model

J Neurosci. 2020 Jan 15;40(3):694-709. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1446-19.2019. Epub 2019 Dec 9.


Impaired mitochondrial function and aberrant neuronal network activity are believed to be early events in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), but how mitochondrial alterations contribute to aberrant activity in neuronal circuits is unknown. In this study, we examined the function of mitochondrial protein deacetylase sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) in the pathogenesis of AD. Compared with AppPs1 mice, Sirt3-haploinsufficient AppPs1 mice (Sirt3+/-AppPs1) exhibit early epileptiform EEG activity and seizure. Both male and female Sirt3+/-AppPs1 mice were observed to die prematurely before 5 months of age. When comparing male mice among different genotypes, Sirt3 haploinsufficiency renders GABAergic interneurons in the cerebral cortex vulnerable to degeneration and associated neuronal network hyperexcitability. Feeding Sirt3+/-AppPs1 AD mice with a ketone ester-rich diet increases SIRT3 expression and prevents seizure-related death and the degeneration of GABAergic neurons, indicating that the aggravated GABAergic neuron loss and neuronal network hyperexcitability in Sirt3+/-AppPs1 mice are caused by SIRT3 reduction and can be rescued by increase of SIRT3 expression. Consistent with a protective role in AD, SIRT3 levels are reduced in association with cerebral cortical Aβ pathology in AD patients. In summary, SIRT3 preserves GABAergic interneurons and protects cerebral circuits against hyperexcitability, and this neuroprotective mechanism can be bolstered by dietary ketone esters.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT GABAergic neurons provide the main inhibitory control of neuronal activity in the brain. By preserving mitochondrial function, SIRT3 protects parvalbumin and calretinin interneurons against Aβ-associated dysfunction and degeneration in AppPs1 Alzheimer's disease mice, thus restraining neuronal network hyperactivity. The neuronal network dysfunction that occurs in Alzheimer's disease can be partially reversed by physiological, dietary, and pharmacological interventions to increase SIRT3 expression and enhance the functionality of GABAergic interneurons.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; GABAergic; hyperexcitability; mitochondria; seizure; telemetry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Diet, Ketogenic
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / genetics
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interneurons*
  • Ketones / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Seizures / genetics
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Sirtuin 3 / genetics*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Ketones
  • Sirt3 protein, mouse
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Sirtuin 3