Alzheimer's disease (AD) causes the majority of dementia cases worldwide. Early pathological hallmarks include the accumulation of amyloid-ß (Aß) and activation of both astrocytes and microglia. Neurons form the building blocks of the central nervous system, and astrocytes and microglia provide essential input for its healthy functioning. Their function integrates at the level of the synapse, which is therefore sometimes referred to as the "quad-partite synapse". Increasing evidence puts AD forward as a disease of the synapse, where pre- and postsynaptic processes, as well as astrocyte and microglia functioning progressively deteriorate. Here, we aim to review the current knowledge on how Aß accumulation functionally affects the individual components of the quad-partite synapse. We highlight a selection of processes that are essential to the healthy functioning of the neuronal synapse, including presynaptic neurotransmitter release and postsynaptic receptor functioning. We further discuss how Aß affects the astrocyte's capacity to recycle neurotransmitters, release gliotransmitters, and maintain ion homeostasis. We additionally review literature on how Aß changes the immunoprotective function of microglia during AD progression and conclude by summarizing our main findings and highlighting the challenges in current studies, as well as the need for further research.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid-ß; Astrocyte; Glia; Microglia; Synapse.
© 2022. The Author(s).