In Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients, apopoliprotein (APOE) polymorphism is the main genetic factor associated with more aggressive clinical course. However, the interaction between cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau protein levels and APOE genotype has been scarcely investigated. A possible key mechanism invokes the dysfunction of synaptic plasticity. We investigated how CSF tau interacts with APOE genotype in AD patients. We firstly explored whether CSF tau levels and APOE genotype influence disease progression and long-term potentiation (LTP)-like cortical plasticity as measured by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in AD patients. Then, we incubated normal human astrocytes (NHAs) with CSF collected from sub-groups of AD patients to determine whether APOE genotype and CSF biomarkers influence astrocytes survival. LTP-like cortical plasticity differed between AD patients with apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) and apolipoprotein E3 (APOE3) genotype. Higher CSF tau levels were associated with more impaired LTP-like cortical plasticity and faster disease progression in AD patients with APOE4 but not APOE3 genotype. Apoptotic activity was higher when cells were incubated with CSF from AD patients with APOE4 and high tau levels. CSF tau is detrimental on cortical plasticity, disease progression and astrocyte survival only when associated with APOE4 genotype. This is relevant for new therapeutic approaches targeting tau.
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