Effects of tauopathy on the morphological properties of fan and stellate cells in the entorhinal cortex of the P301S mutant mouse model
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Neurodegenerative diseases generally correlate with age; as the US population’s average age increases, neurodegenerative ailments will contribute a greater burden on the health care system. One of the most prevalent, Alzheimer’s disease, is known to associate with tau proteins with evidence suggestive that abnormal function may initiate neurodegeneration. The entorhinal cortex is one of the earliest regions found to exhibit neuronal atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease. This study analyzed two major neuron types in the entorhinal cortex, fan cells and stellate cells, using the P301S mouse model for tauopathy. Laser-scanning confocal microscopy and software were used to reconstruct and analyze dendrite morphology between the two neuron types. Our results found that stellate cells of transgenic mice exhibited dendritic atrophy, with decreases in morphological parameters such as dendritic length, dendritic complexity, and number of primary dendrites in comparison to wild-type stellate cells. On the other hand, fan cells of transgenic mice did not show decreases in these parameters. Instead, fan cells of transgenic mice showed increases in surface area and volume in a convex hull model, as well as an increase in total Sholl radius from soma in comparison to wild type fan cells. These results suggest that neurons may respond differently to tauopathic stress. Additionally, noting distinct morphological differences between wild type fan cells and stellate cells, such as stellate cells having greater spine density and basal dendritic extensions, our data hints that morphological characteristics may predict susceptibility to pathogenic effects of tau.