Tipping the Scales: Peptide-Dependent Dysregulation of Neural Circuit Dynamics in Alzheimer's Disease

Neuron. 2020 Aug 5;107(3):417-435. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.06.005. Epub 2020 Jun 23.


Identifying effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD) has proven challenging and has instigated a shift in AD research focus toward the earliest disease-initiating cellular mechanisms. A key insight has been an increase in soluble Aβ oligomers in early AD that is causally linked to neuronal and circuit hyperexcitability. However, other accumulating AD-related peptides and proteins, including those derived from the same amyloid precursor protein, such as Aη or sAPPα, and autonomously, such as tau, exhibit surprising opposing effects on circuit dynamics. We propose that the effects of these on neuronal circuits have profound implications for our understanding of disease complexity and heterogeneity and for the development of personalized diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in AD. Here, we highlight important peptide-specific mechanisms of dynamic pathological disequilibrium of cellular and circuit activity in AD and discuss approaches in which these may be further understood, and theoretically and experimentally leveraged, to elucidate AD pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Axon Initial Segment / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • NAV1.1 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism
  • Seizures / metabolism*
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • APP protein, human
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • NAV1.1 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • tau Proteins
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases