Mitochondria are critical for neurophysiology, and mitochondrial dysfunction constitutes a characteristic pathology in both brain aging and Alzheimer disease (AD). Whether mitochondrial deficiency in brain aging and AD is mechanistically linked, however, remains controversial. We report a correlation between intrasynaptosomal amyloid β 42 (Aβ42) and synaptic mitochondrial bioenergetics inefficiency in both aging and amnestic mild cognitive impairment, a transitional stage between normal aging and AD. Experiments using a mouse model expressing nonmutant humanized Aβ (humanized Aβ-knockin [hAβ-KI] mice) confirmed the association of increased intramitochondrial sequestration of Aβ42 with exacerbated synaptic mitochondrial dysfunction in an aging factor- and AD risk–bearing context. Also, in comparison with global cerebral Aβ, intramitochondrial Aβ was relatively preserved from activated microglial phagocytosis in aged hAβ-KI mice. The most parsimonious interpretation of our results is that aging-related mitochondrial Aβ sequestration renders synaptic mitochondrial dysfunction in the transitional stage between normal aging and AD. Mitochondrial dysfunction in both brain aging and the prodromal stage of AD may follow a continuous transition in response to escalated intraneuronal, especially intramitochondrial Aβ, accumulation. Moreover, our findings further implicate a pivotal role of mitochondria in harboring early amyloidosis during the conversion from normal to pathological aging.


Kun Jia, Jing Tian, Tienju Wang, Lan Guo, Zhenyu Xuan, Russell H. Swerdlow, Heng Du


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