Association of A with ceramide-enriched astrosomes mediates A neurotoxicity

Ahmed Elsherbini, Alexander S. Kirov, Michael B. Dinkins, Guanghu Wang, Haiyan Qin, Zhihui Zhu, Priyanka Tripathi, Simone M. Crivelli, Erhard Bieberich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Amyloid- (A) associates with extracellular vesicles termed exosomes. It is not clear whether and how exosomes modulate A neurotoxicity in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We show here that brain tissue and serum from the transgenic mouse model of familial AD (5xFAD) and serum from AD patients contains ceramide-enriched and astrocyte-derived exosomes (termed astrosomes) that are associated with A. In Neuro-2a cells, primary cultured neurons, and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons, A-associated astrosomes from 5xFAD mice and AD patient serum were specifically transported to mitochondria, induced mitochondrial clustering, and upregulated the fission protein Drp-1 at a concentration corresponding to 5 femtomoles A/L of medium. A-associated astrosomes, but not wild type or control human serum exosomes, mediated binding of A to voltage-dependent anion channel 1 (VDAC1) and subsequently, activated caspases. A-associated astrosomes induced neurite fragmentation and neuronal cell death, suggesting that association with astrosomes substantially enhances A neurotoxicity in AD and may comprise a novel target for therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number60
JournalActa neuropathologica communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 28 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for support by the Department of Physiology (Chair Dr. Alan Daugherty) at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Amyloid
  • Astrocytes
  • Ceramide
  • Exosomes
  • Mitochondria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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