Age-related changes in tau and autophagy in human brain in the absence of neurodegeneration

Shreyasi Chatterjee, Megan Sealey, Eva Ruiz, Chrysia M. Pegasiou, Keeley Brookes, Sam Green, Anna Crisford, Michael Duque-Vasquez, Emma Luckett, Rebecca Robertson, Philippa Richardson, Girish Vajramani, Paul Grundy, Diederik Bulters, Christopher Proud, Mariana Vargas-Caballero, Amritpal Mudher

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Tau becomes abnormally hyper-phosphorylated and aggregated in tauopathies like Alzheimers disease (AD). As age is the greatest risk factor for developing AD, it is important to understand how tau protein itself, and the pathways implicated in its turnover, change during aging. We investigated age-related changes in total and phosphorylated tau in brain samples from two cohorts of cognitively normal individuals spanning 19-74 years, without overt neurodegeneration. One cohort utilised resected tissue and the other used post-mortem tissue. Total soluble tau levels declined with age in both cohorts. Phosphorylated tau was undetectable in the post-mortem tissue but was clearly evident in the resected tissue and did not undergo significant age-related change. To ascertain if the decline in soluble tau was correlated with age-related changes in autophagy, three markers of autophagy were tested but only two appeared to increase with age and the third was unchanged. This implies that in individuals who do not develop neurodegeneration, there is an age-related reduction in soluble tau which could potentially be due to age-related changes in autophagy. Thus, to explore how an age-related increase in autophagy might influence tau-mediated dysfunctions in vivo, autophagy was enhanced in a Drosophila model and all age-related tau phenotypes were significantly ameliorated. These data shed light on age-related physiological changes in proteins implicated in AD and highlights the need to study pathways that may be responsible for these changes. It also demonstrates the therapeutic potential of interventions that upregulate turnover of aggregate-prone proteins during aging.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0262792
JournalPloS one
Issue number1 January
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

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