Cytotoxic tau released from lung microvascular endothelial cells upon infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa promotes neuronal tauopathy

Academic Article


  • Patients who recover from nosocomial pneumonia oftentimes exhibit long-lasting cognitive impairment comparable with what is observed in Alzheimer’s disease patients. We previously hypothesized that the lung endothelium contributes to infection-related neurocognitive dysfunction, because bacteria-exposed endothelial cells release a form(s) of cytotoxic tau that is sufficient to impair long-term potentiation in the hippocampus. However, the full-length lung and endothelial tau isoform(s) have yet to be resolved and it remains unclear whether the infection-induced endothelial cytotoxic tau triggers neuronal tau aggregation. Here, we demonstrate that lung endothelial cells express a big tau isoform and three additional tau isoforms that are similar to neuronal tau, each containing four microtubule-binding repeat domains, and that tau is expressed in lung capillaries in vivo. To test whether infection elicits endothelial tau capable of causing transmissible tau aggregation, the cells were infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The infection-induced tau released from endothelium into the medium-induced neuronal tau aggregation in reporter cells, including reporter cells that express either the four microtubule-binding repeat domains or the full-length tau. Infection-induced release of pathological tau variant(s) from endothelium, and the ability of the endothelial-derived tau to cause neuronal tau aggregation, was abolished in tau knockout cells. After bacterial lung infection, brain homogenates from WT mice, but not from tau knockout mice, initiated tau aggregation. Thus, we conclude that bacterial pneumonia initiates the release of lung endothelial-derived cytotoxic tau, which is capable of propagating a neuronal tauopathy.
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    Author List

  • Choi CS; Gwin M; Voth S; Kolb C; Zhou C; Nelson AR; deWeever A; Koloteva A; Annamdevula NS; Murphy JM
  • Volume

  • 298
  • Issue

  • 1