Reduced levels of mitochondrial complex I subunit NDUFB8 and linked complex I + III oxidoreductase activity in the TgCRND8 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is an early feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and may play an important role in the pathogenesis of disease. Emerging evidence indicates that amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides enter mitochondria and may thereby disrupt mitochondrial function in brains of AD patients and transgenic model mice. However, it remains to be determined whether the β-cleaved C-terminal fragment (C99), another neurotoxic fragment of amyloid precursor protein (APP), may accumulate in mitochondria of neurons affected by AD. Using immunoblotting, digitonin fractionation and immunofluorescence labeling techniques, we found that C99 is targeted to mitochondria, in particular, to the mitoplast (i.e., inner membrane and matrix compartments) in brains of AD transgenic mice (5XFAD model). Furthermore, full-length APP (fl-APP) was also identified in mitochondrial fractions of 5XFAD mice. Remarkably, partial deletion of the β-site APP-cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1(+/-)) almost completely abolished mitochondrial targeting of C99 and fl-APP in 5XFAD mice at 6 months of age. However, substantial amounts of C99 and fl-APP accumulation remained in mitochondria of 12-month-old BACE1(+/-)·5XFAD mouse brains. Consistent with these changes in mitochondrial C99/fl-APP levels, BACE1(+/-) deletion age-dependently rescued mitochondrial dysfunction in 5XFAD mice, as assessed by cytochrome c release from mitochondria, reduced redox or complex activities and oxidative DNA damage. Moreover, BACE1(+/-) deletion also improved memory deficits as tested by the spontaneous alternation Y-maze task in 5XFAD mice at 6 months but not at 12 months of age. Taken together, our findings suggest that mitochondrial accumulation of C99 and fl-APP may occur through BACE1-dependent mechanisms and contribute to inducing mitochondrial dysfunction and cognitive impairments associated with AD.