Aging, pathological tau oligomers (TauO), and chronic inflammation in the brain play a central role in tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). However, the underlying mechanism of TauO-induced aging-related neuroinflammation remains unclear. Here, we show that TauO-associated astrocytes display a senescence-like phenotype in the brains of patients with AD and FTD. TauO exposure triggers astrocyte senescence through high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) release and inflammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), which mediates paracrine senescence in adjacent cells. HMGB1 release inhibition using ethyl pyruvate (EP) and glycyrrhizic acid (GA) prevents TauO-induced senescence through inhibition of p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB)-the essential signaling pathways for SASP development. Despite the developed tauopathy in 12-month-old hTau mice, EP+GA treatment significantly decreases TauO and senescent cell loads in the brain, reduces neuroinflammation, and thus ameliorates cognitive functions. Collectively, TauO-induced HMGB1 release promotes cellular senescence and neuropathology, which could represent an important common pathomechanism in tauopathies including AD and FTD.
Keywords: HMGB1; SASP; aging; astrocytes; cognitive functions; neurodegeneration; neuroinflammation; senescence; tau oligomers; tauopathies.
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.