Physiological clearance of tau in the periphery and its therapeutic potential for tauopathies

Acta Neuropathologica
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Jun Wang, Wang-Sheng Jin, Xian-Le Bu, Fan Zeng, Zhi-Lin Huang, Wei-Wei Li, Lin-Lin Shen, Zhen-Qian Zhuang, Yuqiang Fang, Bin-Lu Sun, Jie Zhu, Xiu-Qing Yao, Gui-Hua Zeng, Zhi-Fang Dong, Jin-Tai Yu, Zhian Hu, Weihong Song, Hua-Dong Zhou, Jian-Xin Jiang, Yu-Hui Liu, Yan-Jiang Wang

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00401-018-1891-2

Acta Neuropathologica

ABSTRACT

Accumulation of pathological tau is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease and other tauopathies and is closely correlated with cognitive decline. Clearance of pathological tau from the brain is a major therapeutic strategy for tauopathies. The physiological capacity of the periphery to clear brain-derived tau and its therapeutic potential remain largely unknown. Here, we found that cisterna magna injected 131I-labelled synthetic tau dynamically effluxed from the brain and was mainly cleared from the kidney, blood, and liver in mice; we also found that plasma tau levels in inferior vena cava were lower than those in femoral artery in humans. These findings suggest that tau proteins can efflux out of the brain and be cleared in the periphery under physiological conditions. Next, we showed that lowering blood tau levels via peritoneal dialysis could reduce interstitial fluid (ISF) tau levels in the brain, and tau levels in the blood and ISF were dynamically correlated; furthermore, tau efflux from the brain was accelerated after the addition of another set of peripheral system in a parabiosis model. Finally, we established parabiosis mouse models using tau transgenic mice and their wild-type littermates and found that brain tau levels and related pathologies in parabiotic transgenic mice were significantly reduced after parabiosis, suggesting that chronic enhancement of peripheral tau clearance alleviates pathological tau accumulation and neurodegeneration in the brain. Our study provides the first evidence of physiological clearance of brain-derived pathological tau in the periphery, suggesting that enhancing peripheral tau clearance is a potential therapeutic strategy for tauopathies.