The entorhinal cortex (EC) is long known to be the region affected first in Alzheimer?s disease (AD) with symptoms such as disorientation, confusion and inability to navigate appearing early in life. But more recently, a region in the brainstem- locus coeruleus (LC) was found to have tau accumulation in young healthy adults, making it the first region in the brain with AD pathology. The LC is known to be important for arousal and controls the sleep/wake switch. The neurons of LC project to several regions including EC and hippocampus which are known to be important for spatial memory. Unsurprisingly, one of the earliest symptoms of AD is spatial difficulties and it is possible that early pathology in LC affects sleep leading to spatial memory deficits. With both LC and EC important for memory, we aim to identify which of them is more vulnerable to tau and A? pathology. To explore this possibility, we will first inject LC and EC regions of wildtype mouse with pathological tau derived from human AD brains to make them dysfunctional, and evaluate their neuronal function. We will also assess sleep and test memory performance in relevant behavior tasks. To understand how a? affects tau pathology, we will inject human tau in the APP Knock-In mice which has physiological amounts of APP expressed in them. We will determine if A? together with tau worsens the neuronal function of LC and EC neurons and it sleep and memory is impaired further. We will use multi-region silicon probes to simultaneously record activity from LC or medial EC and hippocampal neurons. The MEC and hippocampal neurons are well characterized with properties that can be easily measured using spatial navigation tasks. We will make use of virtual reality head-fixed setup for the animals to navigate in, and allowing us to quickly test animal?s memory in any context and environment. The animals will be tested for object-location memory and context-dependent memory in virtual environment. We will use machine learning algorithms to decode animal?s position in the LC, MEC and HPC neural data and determine if it is affected by tau or A? or both. We will also assess sleep parameters and correlate with memory. We hypothesize that tau in LC and EC will make its neurons dysfunctional and directly affect sleep and memory, and this in concert with A? will exacerbate neuronal dysfunction leading to increased sleep problems and spatial memory impairment as seen in early AD. With this we aim to identify electrophysiological biomarker of neuronal dysfunction before the onset of behavioral troubles. We will test if increasing the neuronal firing in hypoactive neurons and reducing the firing in hyperactive neurons will restore downstream neuronal dysfunction and reverse sleep problems and cognitive impairment. The proposal brings together diverse fields (neuroscience, pathology and computational neuroscience) applying large-scale recording techniques simultaneously across multiple brain regions to develop analytical and predictive tests to interrogate function in vulnerable brain regions that are dysfunctional in AD.

Public Health Relevance

The locus coeruleus and the entorhinal cortex region of the brain are among the first to be affected in Alzheimer?s disease, causing sleep problems and cognitive dysfunction. Using multi-region recording probes we will evaluate their function to determine which one of them is more vulnerable to tau and a? pathology. We will test if by using optogenetic approach the neurons in these regions can be rescued and cognitive deficits be reversed.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Cell Death in Neurodegeneration Study Section (CDIN)
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Wise, Bradley C
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Columbia University (N.Y.)
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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