Mitochondrial dysfunction plays a pivotal role in the Alzheimer's Disease (AD) pathology. Disrupted mitochondrial dynamics (i.e., fusion/fission balance), which are essential for normal mitochondria structure and function, are documented in AD. Caveolin-1 (Cav-1), a membrane/lipid raft (MLR) scaffolding protein regulates metabolic pathways in several different cell types such as hepatocytes and cancer cells. Previously, we have shown decreased expression of Cav-1 in the hippocampus of 9-month (m) old PSAPP mice, while hippocampal overexpression of neuron-targeted Cav-1 using the synapsin promoter (i.e., SynCav1) preserved cognitive function, neuronal morphology, and synaptic ultrastructure in 9 and 12 m PSAPP mice. Considering the central role of energy production in maintaining normal neuronal and synaptic function and survival, the present study reveals that PSAPP mice exhibit disrupted mitochondrial distribution, morphometry, and respiration. In contrast, SynCav1 mitigates mitochondrial damage and loss and enhances mitochondrial respiration. Furthermore, by examining mitochondrial dynamics, we found that PSAPP mice showed a significant increase in the phosphorylation of mitochondrial dynamin-related GTPase protein (DRP1), resulting in excessive mitochondria fragmentation and dysfunction. In contrast, hippocampal delivery of SynCav1 significantly decreased p-DRP1 and augmented the level of the mitochondrial fusion protein, mitofusin1 (Mfn1) in PSAPP mice, a molecular event, which may mechanistically explain for the preserved balance of mitochondria fission/fusion and metabolic resilience in 12 m PSAPP-SynCav1 mice. Our data demonstrate the critical role for Cav-1 in maintaining normal mitochondrial morphology and function through affecting mitochondrial dynamics and explain a molecular and cellular mechanism underlying the previously reported neuroprotective and cognitive preservation induced by SynCav1 in PSAPP mouse model of AD.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; caveolin; gene therapy; mitochondria; oxidative stress; transgenic.