Mitochondria-Specific Accumulation of Amyloid β Induces Mitochondrial Dysfunction Leading to Apoptotic Cell Death

Mitochondria are best known as the essential intracellular organelles that host the homeostasis required for cellular survival, but they also have relevance in diverse disease-related conditions, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Amyloid β (Aβ) peptide is the key molecule in AD pathogenesis, and has been highlighted in the implication of mitochondrial abnormality during the disease progress. Neuronal exposure to Aβ impairs mitochondrial dynamics and function. Furthermore, mitochondrial Aβ accumulation has been detected in the AD brain. However, the underlying mechanism of how Aβ affects mitochondrial function remains uncertain, and it is questionable whether mitochondrial Aβ accumulation followed by mitochondrial dysfunction leads directly to neuronal toxicity. This study demonstrated that an exogenous Aβ1–42 treatment, when applied to the hippocampal cell line of mice (specifically HT22 cells), caused a deleterious alteration in mitochondria in both morphology and function. A clathrin-mediated endocytosis blocker rescued the exogenous Aβ1–42-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction. Furthermore, the mitochondria-targeted accumulation of Aβ1–42 in HT22 cells using Aβ1–42 with a mitochondria-targeting sequence induced the identical morphological alteration of mitochondria as that observed in the APP/PS AD mouse model and exogenous Aβ1–42-treated HT22 cells. In addition, subsequent mitochondrial dysfunctions were demonstrated in the mitochondria-specific Aβ1–42 accumulation model, which proved indistinguishable from the mitochondrial impairment induced by exogenous Aβ1–42-treated HT22 cells. Finally, cellular toxicity was directly induced by mitochondria-targeted Aβ1–42 accumulation, which mimics the apoptosis process in exogenous Aβ1–42-treated HT22 cells. Taken together, these results indicate that mitochondria-targeted Aβ1–42 accumulation is the necessary and sufficient condition for Aβ-mediated mitochondria impairments, and leads directly to cellular death rather than along with other Aβ-mediated signaling alterations.