Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Major Professor

Marcia N. Gordon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dave Morgan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Javier Cuevas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Keith Pennypacker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amyn Rojiani, MD, Ph.D.


microglia, astrocyte, nicotinic receptor, amyloid, dexamethasone


Alzheimers disease (AD) is pathologically characterized by amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, inflammation, and neurodegeneration. According to the amyloid hypothesis of AD, the central mediating event of the disease is the deposition of amyloid. The inflammation hypothesis of AD states that it is the inflammatory response to plaques and tangles, rather than the actual lesions, which causes the disease. Studies described here combine the two approaches into a single model. Four studies are presented using a basic protocol of intrahippocampal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) injection to stimulate inflammation in transgenic mice. The first study looked at alpha7 nicotinic receptors during the glial response to Abeta deposits and LPS. Reactive astrocytes which immunolabeled for alpha7 were co-localized with Congophilic deposits in APP and APP+PS1 mice, and increased after LPS injection. Unfortunately, LPS injection into alpha7 knock out mice revealed the alpha7 labeling to be nonspecific. The second study evaluated the time course of protein and gene expression after LPS injection into nontransgenic mice. This experiment identified both a transient and chronic microglial inflammatory response, with changes in cell morphology. The third study evaluated a similar time course in APP mice. Concurrent with the inflammatory response, transient reductions in Abeta burden were seen, though compact plaque load was unaffected. The fourth and final study used dexamethasone to inhibit LPS-induced inflammation in APP mice. LPS injection reduced Abeta burden, but was completely blocked by dexamethasone co-treatment. Though dexamethasone inhibited LPS-induced CD45 and complement receptor 3 levels (markers of general microglial activation), dexamethasone had no effect on scavenger receptor A or Fc gamma receptor II/III levels. An overall hypothesis regarding LPS mediated reductions in Abeta can be proposed: It is not the presence of the LPS molecule, nor the upregulation of receptors involved in phagocytosis, but rather general glial cell activation that mediates Abeta removal. Thus, a phagocytic cell must not only bind Abeta (by various receptors) but must also be capable of engulfing the material (via general cell activation). Taken together, these studies suggest that some level of inflammation in AD is beneficial and responsible for maintaining a balance between amyloid deposition and removal.