Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 122, Issue 3, pp 285–292 | Cite as

Postsynaptic degeneration as revealed by PSD-95 reduction occurs after advanced Aβ and tau pathology in transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease

  • Charles Y. Shao
  • Suzanne S. Mirra
  • Hameetha B. R. Sait
  • Todd C. Sacktor
  • Einar M. Sigurdsson
Original Paper


Impairment of synaptic plasticity underlies memory dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Molecules involved in this plasticity such as PSD-95, a major postsynaptic scaffold protein at excitatory synapses, may play an important role in AD pathogenesis. We examined the distribution of PSD-95 in transgenic mice of amyloidopathy (5XFAD) and tauopathy (JNPL3) as well as in AD brains using double-labeling immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy. In wild type control mice, PSD-95 primarily labeled neuropil with distinct distribution in hippocampal apical dendrites. In 3-month-old 5XFAD mice, PSD-95 distribution was similar to that of wild type mice despite significant Aβ deposition. However, in 6-month-old 5XFAD mice, PSD-95 immunoreactivity in apical dendrites markedly decreased and prominent immunoreactivity was noted in neuronal soma in CA1 neurons. Similarly, PSD-95 immunoreactivity disappeared from apical dendrites and accumulated in neuronal soma in 14-month-old, but not in 3-month-old, JNPL3 mice. In AD brains, PSD-95 accumulated in Hirano bodies in hippocampal neurons. Our findings support the notion that either Aβ or tau can induce reduction of PSD-95 in excitatory synapses in hippocampus. Furthermore, this PSD-95 reduction is not an early event but occurs as the pathologies advance. Thus, the time-dependent PSD-95 reduction from synapses and accumulation in neuronal soma in transgenic mice and Hirano bodies in AD may mark postsynaptic degeneration that underlies long-term functional deficits.


PSD-95 Alzheimer’s disease Transgenic mice 5XFAD JNPL3 P301L Hippocampus Hirano body 



Postsynaptic density 95


Alzheimer’s disease


Five familial AD mutations


Founder line of P301L mice that express human tau encoding the frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17)


Cornu Ammonis area 1 of hippocampus



This work was supported by NIH Grants R01 AG020197 and R01 AG032611, and the Alzheimer’s Association to E.M.S., and by NIH Grants RO1 MH53576 and MH57068 to T.C.S.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Y. Shao
    • 1
  • Suzanne S. Mirra
    • 1
  • Hameetha B. R. Sait
    • 3
    • 4
  • Todd C. Sacktor
    • 2
  • Einar M. Sigurdsson
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PathologySUNY Downstate Medical CenterBrooklynUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physiology, Pharmacology and NeurologySUNY Downstate Medical CenterBrooklynUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physiology and NeuroscienceNYU School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryNYU School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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