Intraneuronal Aβ accumulation induces hippocampal neuron hyperexcitability through A-type K+ current inhibition mediated by activation of caspases and GSK-3

Federico Scala, Salvatore Fusco, Cristian Ripoli, Roberto Piacentini, Domenica Donatella Li Puma, Matteo Spinelli, Fernanda Laezza, Claudio Grassi, Marcello D'Ascenzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amyloid β-protein (Aβ) pathologies have been linked to dysfunction of excitability in neurons of the hippocampal circuit, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this process are still poorly understood. Here, we applied whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology to primary hippocampal neurons and show that intracellular Aβ42 delivery leads to increased spike discharge and action potential broadening through downregulation of A-type K+ currents. Pharmacologic studies showed that caspases and glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) activation are required for these Aβ42-induced effects. Extracellular perfusion and subsequent internalization of Aβ42 increase spike discharge and promote GSK-3-dependent phosphorylation of the Kv4.2 α-subunit, a molecular determinant of A-type K+ currents, at Ser-616. In acute hippocampal slices derived from an adult triple-transgenic Alzheimer's mouse model, characterized by endogenous intracellular accumulation of Aβ42, CA1 pyramidal neurons exhibit hyperexcitability accompanied by increased phosphorylation of Kv4.2 at Ser-616. Collectively, these data suggest that intraneuronal Aβ42 accumulation leads to an intracellular cascade culminating into caspases activation and GSK-3-dependent phosphorylation of Kv4.2 channels. These findings provide new insights into the toxic mechanisms triggered by intracellular Aβ42 and offer potentially new therapeutic targets for Alzheimer's disease treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)886-900
Number of pages15
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2015


  • A-type K current
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid-β protein
  • Caspase
  • GSK-3
  • Hippocampal neurons
  • Intrinsic excitability
  • KV4.2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Ageing
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Medicine(all)


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