The proteome of granulovacuolar degeneration and neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s disease

David C. Hondius*, Frank Koopmans, Conny Leistner, D. bora Pita-Illobre, Regina M. Peferoen-Baert, Fenna Marbus, Iryna Paliukhovich, Ka Wan Li, Annemieke J. M. Rozemuller, Jeroen J. M. Hoozemans, August B. Smit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Granulovacuolar degeneration (GVD) is a common feature in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The occurrence of GVD is closely associated with that of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and GVD is even considered to be a pre-NFT stage in the disease process of AD. Currently, the composition of GVD bodies, the mechanisms associated with GVD and how GVD exactly relates to NFTs is not well understood. By combining immunohistochemistry (IHC) and laser microdissection (LMD) we isolated neurons with GVD and those bearing tangles separately from human post-mortem AD hippocampus (n = 12) using their typical markers casein kinase (CK)1δ and phosphorylated tau (AT8). Control neurons were isolated from cognitively healthy cases (n = 12). 3000 neurons per sample were used for proteome analysis by label free LC–MS/MS. In total 2596 proteins were quantified across samples and a significant change in abundance of 115 proteins in GVD and 197 in tangle bearing neurons was observed compared to control neurons. With IHC the presence of PPIA, TOMM34, HSP70, CHMP1A, TPPP and VXN was confirmed in GVD containing neurons. We found multiple proteins localizing specifically to the GVD bodies, with VXN and TOMM34 being the most prominent new protein markers for GVD bodies. In general, protein groups related to protein folding, proteasomal function, the endolysosomal pathway, microtubule and cytoskeletal related function, RNA processing and glycolysis were found to be changed in GVD neurons. In addition to these protein groups, tangle bearing neurons show a decrease in ribosomal proteins, as well as in various proteins related to protein folding. This study, for the first time, provides a comprehensive human based quantitative assessment of protein abundances in GVD and tangle bearing neurons. In line with previous functional data showing that tau pathology induces GVD, our data support the model that GVD is part of a pre-NFT stage representing a phase in which proteostasis and cellular homeostasis is disrupted. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms and cellular processes affected in GVD and its relation to the presence of tau pathology is highly relevant for the identification of new drug targets for therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-358
Number of pages18
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number3
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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