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Neuroprotection In Early Stages Of Alzheimer’s Disease Is Promoted By Transthyretin Angiogenic Properties

Tiago Gião, Joana Saavedra, José Ricardo Vieira, Marta Teixeira Pinto, Gemma Arsequell, Isabel Cardoso

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Abstract Background While still controversial, it has been demonstrated that vascular defects can precede the onset of other AD hallmarks features, making it an important therapeutic target. Given that the protein transthyretin (TTR) has been established as neuroprotective in AD, here we investigated the influence of TTR in the vasculature. Methods We evaluated the thickness of the basement membrane and the length of brain microvessels, by immunohistochemistry, in AβPPswe/PS1A246E (AD) transgenic mice and non-transgenic mice (NT) bearing one (TTR+/−) or two (TTR+/+) copies of the TTR gene. The angiogenic potential of TTR was evaluated in vitro using the tube formation assay, and in vivo using the chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay. Results AD transgenic mice with TTR genetic reduction, AD/TTR+/−, exhibited a thicker BM in brain microvessels and decreased vessel length than animals with normal TTR levels, AD/TTR+/+. Further in vivo investigation, using the CAM assay, revealed that TTR is a pro-angiogenic molecule, and the neovessels formed are functional. Also, TTR increased the expression of key angiogenic molecules such as proteins interleukins 6 and 8, angiopoietin 2, and vascular endothelial growth factor, by endothelial cells, in vitro, under tube formation conditions. We showed that while TTR reduction also leads to a thicker BM in NT mice, this effect is more pronounced in AD mice than in NT animals, strengthening the idea that TTR is a neuroprotective protein. We also studied the effect of TTR tetrameric stabilization on BM thickness, showing that AD mice treated with the TTR tetrameric stabilizer iododiflunisal (IDIF) displayed a significant reduction of BM thickness and increased vessel length, when compared to non-treated littermates. Conclusion Our in vivo results demonstrate the involvement of TTR in angiogenesis, particularly as a modulator of vascular alterations occurring in AD. Since TTR is decreased early in AD, its tetrameric stabilization can represent a therapeutic avenue for the early treatment of AD through the maintenance of the vascular structure.