Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 73–82 | Cite as

Dendritic Spine Loss and Synaptic Alterations in Alzheimer’s Disease

Article

Abstract

Dendritic spines are tiny protrusions along dendrites, which constitute major postsynaptic sites for excitatory synaptic transmission. These spines are highly motile and can undergo remodeling even in the adult nervous system. Spine remodeling and the formation of new synapses are activity-dependent processes that provide a basis for memory formation. A loss or alteration of these structures has been described in patients with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and in mouse models for these disorders. Such alteration is thought to be responsible for cognitive deficits long before or even in the absence of neuronal loss, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. This review will describe recent findings and discoveries on the loss or alteration of dendritic spines induced by the amyloid β (Aβ) peptide in the context of AD.

Keywords

Alzheimer’s disease Aβ Aβ oligomers Dendritic spines Synaptic loss Cytoskeleton Molecular mechanisms 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Professor Roger M. Nitsch, Dr. Uwe Konietzko, and Dr. Luka Kulic for the careful reading of the manuscript and helpful suggestions.

The laboratory of Roger M. Nitsch is supported by the University of Zürich, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the National Center for Competence in Research ‘Neural Plasticity and Repair’, and the Swiss Commission of Technology and Innovation.

The laboratory of Isabelle M. Mansuy is supported by the University of Zürich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the National Center for Competence in Research ‘Neural Plasticity and Repair’, the Human Frontier Science Program, EMBO YIP program, the Novartis Research Foundation, and the Slack Gyr Foundation.

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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Psychiatry ResearchUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Brain Research Institute, University of ZürichDepartment of Biology, Swiss Federal Institute of TechnologyZürichSwitzerland

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