Alzheimer's disease-linked risk alleles elevate microglial cGAS-associated senescence and neurodegeneration in a tauopathy model

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 Jan 25:2024.01.24.577107. doi: 10.1101/2024.01.24.577107.


The strongest risk factors for Alzheimer's disease (AD) include the χ4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE), the R47H variant of triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2), and female sex. Here, we combine APOE4 and TREM2R47H ( R47H ) in female P301S tauopathy mice to identify the pathways activated when AD risk is the strongest, thereby highlighting disease-causing mechanisms. We find that the R47H variant induces neurodegeneration in female APOE4 mice without impacting hippocampal tau load. The combination of APOE4 and R47H amplified tauopathy-induced cell-autonomous microglial cGAS-STING signaling and type-I interferon response, and interferon signaling converged across glial cell types in the hippocampus. APOE4-R47H microglia displayed cGAS- and BAX-dependent upregulation of senescence, showing association between neurotoxic signatures and implicating mitochondrial permeabilization in pathogenesis. By uncovering pathways enhanced by the strongest AD risk factors, our study points to cGAS-STING signaling and associated microglial senescence as potential drivers of AD risk.

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