Mass spectrometry imaging highlights dynamic patterns of lipid co-expression with Aβ plaques in mouse and human brains

J Neurochem. 2024 Feb 19. doi: 10.1111/jnc.16042. Online ahead of print.


Lipids play crucial roles in the susceptibility and brain cellular responses to Alzheimer's disease (AD) and are increasingly considered potential soluble biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma. To delineate the pathological correlations of distinct lipid species, we conducted a comprehensive characterization of both spatially localized and global differences in brain lipid composition in AppNL-G-F mice with spatial and bulk mass spectrometry lipidomic profiling, using human amyloid-expressing (h-Aβ) and WT mouse brains controls. We observed age-dependent increases in lysophospholipids, bis(monoacylglycerol) phosphates, and phosphatidylglycerols around Aβ plaques in AppNL-G-F mice. Immunohistology-based co-localization identified associations between focal pro-inflammatory lipids, glial activation, and autophagic flux disruption. Likewise, in human donors with varying Braak stages, similar studies of cortical sections revealed co-expression of lysophospholipids and ceramides around Aβ plaques in AD (Braak stage V/VI) but not in earlier Braak stage controls. Our findings in mice provide evidence of temporally and spatially heterogeneous differences in lipid composition as local and global Aβ-related pathologies evolve. Observing similar lipidomic changes associated with pathological Aβ plaques in human AD tissue provides a foundation for understanding differences in CSF lipids with reported clinical stage or disease severity.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Aβ plaques; autophagic disruption; network analysis; pro-inflammatory lipids; spatial lipidomics.