Alzheimer PHF-tau aggregates do not spread tau pathology to the brain via the Retino-tectal projection after intraocular injection in male mouse models

Neurobiol Dis. 2022 Nov:174:105875. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2022.105875. Epub 2022 Sep 22.


Neurofibrillary tangles (NFT), a neuronal lesion found in Alzheimer's disease (AD), are composed of fibrillary aggregates of modified forms of tau proteins. The propagation of NFT follows neuroanatomical pathways suggesting that synaptically connected neurons could transmit tau pathology by the recruitment of normal tau in a prion-like manner. Moreover, the intracerebral injection of pathological tau from AD brains induces the seeding of normal tau in mouse brain. Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease has been transmitted after ocular transplants of cornea or sclera and the scrapie agent can spread across the retino-tectal pathway after intraocular injection of scrapie mouse brain homogenates. In AD, a tau pathology has been detected in the retina. To investigate the potential risk of tau pathology transmission during eye surgery using AD tissue material, we have analysed the development of tau pathology in the visual pathway of mice models expressing murine tau, wild-type or mutant human tau after intraocular injection of pathological tau proteins from AD brains. Although these pathological tau proteins were internalized in retinal ganglion cells, they did not induce aggregation of endogenous tau nor propagation of a tau pathology in the retino-tectal pathway after a 6-month incubation period. These results suggest that retinal ganglion cells exhibit a resistance to develop a tau pathology, and that eye surgery is not a major iatrogenic risk of transmission of tau pathology, contrary to what has been observed for transmission of infectious prions in prion diseases.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Intraocular injection; Neurofibrillary tangles; Retina; Tau pathology propagation; Transgenic mouse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intraocular
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / metabolism
  • Prions* / metabolism
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • tau Proteins
  • Prions