Amyloid-beta aggregates cause alterations of astrocytic metabolic phenotype: impact on neuronal viability
Amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides play a key role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease and exert various toxic effects on neurons; however, relatively little is known about their influence on glial cells. Astrocytes play a pivotal role in brain homeostasis, contributing to the regulation of local energy metabolism and oxidative stress defense, two aspects of importance for neuronal viability and function. In the present study, we explored the effects of Abeta peptides on glucose metabolism in cultured astrocytes. Following Abeta(25-35) exposure, we observed an increase in glucose uptake and its various metabolic fates, i.e., glycolysis (coupled to lactate release), tricarboxylic acid cycle, pentose phosphate pathway, and incorporation into glycogen. Abeta increased hydrogen peroxide production as well as glutathione release into the extracellular space without affecting intracellular glutathione content. A causal link between the effects of Abeta on glucose metabolism and its aggregation and internalization into astrocytes through binding to members of the class A scavenger receptor family could be demonstrated. Using astrocyte-neuron cocultures, we observed that the overall modifications of astrocyte metabolism induced by Abeta impair neuronal viability. The effects of the Abeta(25-35) fragment were reproduced by Abeta(1-42) but not by Abeta(1-40). Finally, the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) pathway appears to be crucial in these events since both the changes in glucose utilization and the decrease in neuronal viability are prevented by LY294002, a PI3-kinase inhibitor. This set of observations indicates that Abeta aggregation and internalization into astrocytes profoundly alter their metabolic phenotype with deleterious consequences for neuronal viability.