Relevance of CD40/CD40L downstream pathways to Alzheimer's disease

Claude-Henry Volmar, Florida International University


The amyloid cascade hypothesis places amyloid-β at the origin of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Amyloid-β (Aβ) is the product of the sequential cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by the enzymes β- and γ-secretases. An inflammatory component to AD has been suggested in association with CD40 (a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily (TNFRS) and its cognate ligand CD40L. In this study, I hypothesized that the neutralization of pro-inflammatory cytokines produced downstream of CD40/CD40L interaction would reduce APP processing. I also hypothesized that blocking the binding of different adaptor proteins to CD40 by mutating its cytoplasmic tail would result in significant reduction of the APP metabolites: Aβ, sAPPβ, sAPPα, CTFβ and CTFα. Treatment with CD40L of human embryonic kidney cells over-expressing both APP and CD40 (HEK/APPsw/CD40) significantly increased levels of the cytokine granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). Neutralizing antibodies against GM-CSF mitigated the CD40L-induced production of Aβ in these cells. Treatment of the HEK/APPsw/CD40 cells with recombinant GM-CSF significantly increased Aβ levels. GM-CSF receptor gene silencing with shRNA significantly reduced Aβ levels to below base line in non-stimulated HEK/APPsw/CD40 cells. Silencing of the GM-CSF receptor also decreased APP endocytosis (therefore reducing the availability of APP to be cleaved in the endosomes). Using CD40 mutants, I show that CD40L can increase levels of Aβ(1-40), Aβ(1-42), sAPPβ, sAPPα and CTFβ independently of TRAF signaling. TRAFs had been shown to be necessary for most CD40/CD40L-dependent signaling. An increase in mature/immature APP ratio after CD40L treatment of CD40wt and CD40-mutant cells was observed, reflecting alterations in APP trafficking. CD4OL treatment of a neuroblastoma cell line over-expressing CTFβ suggested that CD40L affected γ-secretase activity. Inhibition of γ-secretase activity significantly reduced sAPPβ levels in the CD40L treated HEK/APPsw CD40wt and the CD40-mutant cells. The latter suggests CD40/CD40L interaction primarily acts on γ-secretase and affects β-secretase via a positive feedback mechanism. Taken together, the results of this dissertation suggest that GM-CSF operates downstream of CD40/CD40L interaction and that GM-CSF modulates Aβ production by influencing APP trafficking. Moreover, the data presented suggest that CD40/CD40L interaction can modulate APP processing via a mechanism independent of TRAF signaling.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Neurosciences|Cellular biology

Recommended Citation

Volmar, Claude-Henry, "Relevance of CD40/CD40L downstream pathways to Alzheimer's disease" (2009). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3377923.