AIMS: Selective neuronal vulnerability of hippocampal Cornu Ammonis (CA)-1 neurons is a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) with an unknown underlying mechanism. We interrogated the expression of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex-1 (TSC1; hamartin) and mTOR-related proteins in hippocampal CA1 and CA3 subfields. METHODS: A human post-mortem cohort of mild (n=7) and severe (n=10) AD and non-neurological controls (n=9) was used for quantitative and semi-quantitative analyses. We also developed an in vitro TSC1-knockdown model in rat hippocampal neurons, while transcriptomic analyses of TSC1-knockdown neuronal cultures were performed. RESULTS: We found a selective increase of TSC1 cytoplasmic inclusions in human AD CA1 neurons with hyperactivation of one of TSC1's downstream targets, the mammalian target of rapamycin complex-1 (mTORC1), suggesting that TSC1 is no longer active in AD. TSC1-knockdown experiments showed accelerated cell death independent of amyloid-beta toxicity. Transcriptomic analyses of TSC1 knockdown neuronal cultures revealed signatures that were significantly enriched for AD-related pathways. CONCLUSIONS: Our combined data point to TSC1 dysregulation as a key driver of selective neuronal vulnerability in the AD hippocampus. Future work aimed at identifying targets amenable to therapeutic manipulation is urgently needed to halt selective neurodegeneration, and by extension, debilitating cognitive impairment characteristic of AD.
Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol
Alzheimer’s Disease, molecular biology, neurodegeneration, neuropathology