INTRODUCTION: Mutations of Tau are associated with several neurodegenerative disorders. Recently, the Tau mutation A152T was described as a novel risk factor for frontotemporal dementia spectrum disorders and Alzheimer disease. In vitro Tau-A152T shows a decreased binding to microtubules and a reduced tendency to form abnormal fibers. RESULTS: To study the effects of this mutation we generated a mouse model expressing human full-length Tau with this mutation (hTau40(AT)). At young age (2-3 months) immunohistological analysis reveals pathological Tau conformation and Tau-hyperphosphorylation combined with Tau missorting into the somatodendritic compartment of neurons. With increasing age there is Tau aggregation including co-aggregates of endogenous mouse Tau and exogenous human Tau, accompanied by loss of synapses (especially presynaptic failure) and neurons. From ~10 months onwards the mice show a prominent neuroinflammatory response as judged by activation of microglia and astrocytes. This progressive neuroinflammation becomes visible by in vivo bioluminescence imaging after crossbreeding of hTau40(AT) mice and Gfap-luciferase reporter mice. In contrast to other Tau-transgenic models and Alzheimer disease patients with reduced protein clearance, hTau40(AT) mice show a strong induction of autophagy. Although Tau-hyperphosphorylation and aggregation is also present in spinal cord and motor cortex (due to the Thy1.2 promoter), neuromotor performance is not affected. Deficits in spatial reference memory are manifest at ~16 months and are accompanied by neuronal death. CONCLUSIONS: The hTau40(AT) mice mimic pathological hallmarks of tauopathies including a cognitive phenotype combined with pronounced neuroinflammation visible by bioluminescence. Thus the mice are suitable for mechanistic studies of Tau induced toxicity and in vivo validation of neuroprotective compounds.
Sydow, A., Hochgräfe, K., Könen, S., Cadinu, D., Matenia, D., Petrova, O., … Mandelkow, E. M. (2016). Age-dependent neuroinflammation and cognitive decline in a novel Ala152Thr-Tau transgenic mouse model of PSP and AD. Acta Neuropathologica Communications, 4, 17. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40478-016-0281-z