Hippocampal stem cells promotes synaptic resistance to the dysfunctional impact of amyloid beta oligomers via secreted exosomes

Maria Adelaide Micci, Balaji Krishnan, Elizabeth Bishop, Wen Ru Zhang, Jutatip Guptarak, Auston Grant, Olga Zolochevska, Batbayar Tumurbaatar, Whitney Franklin, Claudia Marino, Steven G. Widen, Arjun Luthra, Steven G. Kernie, Giulio Taglialatela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: Adult hippocampal neurogenesis plays an important role in synaptic plasticity and cogntive function. We reported that higher numbers of neural stem cells (NSC) in the hippocampus of cognitively-intact individuals with high Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology (plaques and tangles) is associated with decreased synaptic amyloid beta oligomers (Aβο), an event linked to onset of dementia in AD. While these findings suggest a link between NSC and synaptic resistance to Aβο, the involved mechanism remains to be determined. With this goal in mind, here we investigated the ability of exosomes secreted from hippocampal NSC to promote synaptic resilience to Aβo. Methods: Exosomes isolated from media of hippocampus NSC (NSC-exo) or mature hippocampal neuronal (MN-exo) cultures were delivered intracerebroventricularly (ICV) to mice before assessment of Aβο-induced suppression of hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) and memory deficits. Aβο binding to synapses was assessed in cultured hippocampal neurons and on synaptosomes isolated from hippocampal slices from wild type mice and from an inducible mouse model of NSC ablation (Nestin-δ-HSV-TK mice) treated with exosomes. Expression of CaMKII and of AMPA and NMDA glutamate receptor subunits in synaptosomes was measured by western blot. Small RNA Deep sequencing was performed to identify microRNAs enriched in NSC-exo as compared to MN-exo. Mimics of select miRNAs were injected ICV. Results: NSC-exo, but not MN-exo, abolished Aβo-induced suppression of LTP and subsequent memory deficits. Furthermore, in hippocampal slices and cultured neurons, NSC-exo significantly decreased Aβo binding to the synapse. Similarly, transgenic ablation of endogenous NSC increased synaptic Aβo binding, which was reversed by exogenous NSC-exo. Phosphorylation of synaptic CaMKII was increased by NSC-exo, while AMPA and NMDA receptors were not affected. Lastly, we identified a set of miRNAs enriched in NSC-exo that, when injected ICV, protected the synapses from Aβo-binding and Aβo-induced LTP inhibition. Conclusions: These results identify a novel mechanism linking NSC-exo and synaptic susceptibility to Aβo that may underscore cognitive resilience of certain individuals with increased neurogenesis in spite of AD neuropathology and unmask a novel target for the development of a new treatment concept for AD centered on promoting synaptic resilience to toxic amyloid proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number25
JournalMolecular Neurodegeneration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 14 2019


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Aβ oligomers
  • Exosomes
  • Neural stem cells
  • Synapses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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