Transactivating DNA-binding protein-43 (TDP-43) inclusions and the accumulation of phosphorylated and ubiquitinated tau proteins (p-tau) have been identified in postmortem brain specimens from patients with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). To examine whether these proteins contribute to the development of CTE, we utilized an in vitro trauma system known to reproduce many of the findings observed in humans and experimental animals with traumatic brain injury. Accordingly, we examined the role of TDP-43 and Tau in an in vitro model of trauma, and determined whether these proteins contribute to the defective neuronal integrity associated with CNS trauma. Single or multiple episodes of trauma to cultured neurons resulted in a time-dependent increase in cytosolic levels of phosphorylated TDP-43 (p-TDP-43). Trauma to cultured neurons also caused an increase in levels of casein kinase 1 epsilon (CK1ε), and ubiquitinated p-TDP-43, along with a decrease in importin-β (all factors known to mediate the “TDP-43 proteinopathy”). Defective neuronal integrity, as evidenced by a reduction in levels of the NR1 subunit of the NMDA receptor, and in PSD95, along with increased levels of phosphorylated tau were also observed. Additionally, increased levels of intra- and extracellular thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) (a factor known to regulate neuronal integrity) were observed in cultured astrocytes at early stages of trauma, while at later stages decreased levels were identified. The addition of recombinant TSP-1, conditioned media from cultured astrocytes at early stages of trauma, or the CK1ε inhibitor PF4800567 hydrochloride to traumatized cultured neurons reduced levels of p-TDP-43, and reversed the trauma-induced decline in NR1 subunit of the NMDA receptor and PSD95 levels. These findings suggest that a trauma-induced increase in TDP-43 phosphorylation contributes to defective neuronal integrity, and that increasing TSP-1 levels may represent a useful therapeutic approach for the prevention of the neuronal TDP-43 proteinopathy associated with CTE. (Figure presented.). Read the Editorial Highlight for this article on page 531.
- chronic traumatic encephalopathy
- TDP-43 proteinopathy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience