Altered microglial copper homeostasis in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Zhiqiang Zheng, Carine White, Jaekwon Lee, Troy S. Peterson, Ashley I. Bush, Grace Y. Sun, Gary A. Weisman, Michael J. Petris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by progressive neurodegeneration associated with the aggregation and deposition of β-amyloid (Aβ40 and Aβ42) peptide in senile plaques. Recent studies suggest that copper may play an important role in AD pathology. Copper concentrations are elevated in amyloid plaques and copper binds with high affinity to the Aβ peptide and promotes Aβ oligomerization and neurotoxicity. Despite this connection between copper and AD, it is unknown whether the expression of proteins involved in regulating copper homeostasis is altered in this disorder. In this study, we demonstrate that the copper transporting P-type ATPase, ATP7A, is highly expressed in activated microglial cells that are specifically clustered around amyloid plaques in the TgCRND8 mouse model of AD. Using a cultured microglial cell line, ATP7A expression was found to be increased by the pro-inflammatory cytokine interferon-gamma, but not by TNF-α or IL-1β. Interferon-gamma also elicited marked changes in copper homeostasis, including copper-dependent trafficking of ATP7A from the Golgi to cytoplasmic vesicles, increased copper uptake and elevated expression of the CTR1 copper importer. These findings suggest that pro-inflammatory conditions associated with AD cause marked changes in microglial copper trafficking, which may underlie the changes in copper homeostasis in AD. It is concluded that copper sequestration by microglia may provide a neuroprotective mechanism in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1630-1638
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • ATP7A
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • copper homeostasis
  • inflammation
  • microglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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