Oxidative damage and antioxidant response in frontal cortex of demented and nondemented individuals with alzheimer's neuropathology

Anna Fracassi, Michela Marcatti, Olga Zolochevska, Natalie Tabor, Randall Woltjer, Sandra Moreno, Giulio Taglialatela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by progressive neurodegeneration in the cerebral cortex, histopathologically hallmarked by amyloid β (Aβ) extracellular plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles, constituted by hyperphosphorylated tau protein. Correlation between these pathologic features and dementia has been challenged by the emergence of "nondemented with Alzheimer's neuropathology"(NDAN) individuals, cognitively intact despite displaying pathologic features of AD. The existence of these subjects suggests that some unknown mechanisms are triggered to resist Aβ-mediated detrimental events. Aβ accumulation affects mitochondrial redox balance, increasing oxidative stress status, which in turn is proposed as a primary culprit in AD pathogenesis. To clarify the relationship linking Aβ, oxidative stress, and cognitive impairment, we performed a comparative study on AD, NDAN, and aged-matched human postmortem frontal cortices of either sex. We quantitatively analyzed immunofluorescence distribution of oxidative damage markers, and of SOD2 (superoxide dismutase 2), PGC1α [peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) γ-coactivator 1α], PPARα, and catalase as key factors in antioxidant response, as well as the expression of miRNA-485, as a PGC1a upstream regulator. Our results confirm dramatic redox imbalance, associated with impaired antioxidant defenses in AD brain. By contrast, NDAN individuals display low oxidative damage, which is associated with high levels of scavenging systems, possibly resulting from a lack of PGC1α miRNA-485-related inhibition. Comparative analyses in neurons and astrocytes further highlighted cell-specific mechanisms to counteract redox imbalance. Overall, our data emphasize the importance of transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of antioxidant response in AD. This suggests that an efficient PGC1α-dependent "safety mechanism"may prevent Aβ-mediated oxidative stress, supporting neuroprotective therapies aimed at ameliorating defects in antioxidant response pathways in AD patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-554
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 20 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • MiRNA-485
  • NDAN
  • Oxidative stress
  • PGC1α
  • PPARα

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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