Neuronal ROS-induced glial lipid droplet formation is altered by loss of Alzheimer's disease-associated genes

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Dec 28;118(52):e2112095118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2112095118.


A growing list of Alzheimer's disease (AD) genetic risk factors is being identified, but the contribution of each variant to disease mechanism remains largely unknown. We have previously shown that elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induces lipid synthesis in neurons leading to the sequestration of peroxidated lipids in glial lipid droplets (LD), delaying neurotoxicity. This neuron-to-glia lipid transport is APOD/E-dependent. To identify proteins that modulate these neuroprotective effects, we tested the role of AD risk genes in ROS-induced LD formation and demonstrate that several genes impact neuroprotective LD formation, including homologs of human ABCA1, ABCA7, VLDLR, VPS26, VPS35, AP2A, PICALM, and CD2AP Our data also show that ROS enhances Aβ42 phenotypes in flies and mice. Finally, a peptide agonist of ABCA1 restores glial LD formation in a humanized APOE4 fly model, highlighting a potentially therapeutic avenue to prevent ROS-induced neurotoxicity. This study places many AD genetic risk factors in a ROS-induced neuron-to-glia lipid transfer pathway with a critical role in protecting against neurotoxicity.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Drosophila; GWAS; lipid droplet; peroxidated lipid transfer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Drosophila
  • Female
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Reactive Oxygen Species