INTRODUCTION: Synapse loss is the structural correlate of the cognitive decline indicative of dementia. In the brains of Alzheimer's disease sufferers, amyloid β (Aβ) peptides aggregate to form senile plaques but as soluble peptides are toxic to synapses. We previously demonstrated that Aβ induces Dickkopf-1 (Dkk1), which in turn activates the Wnt-planar cell polarity (Wnt-PCP) pathway to drive tau pathology and neuronal death. METHODS: We compared the effects of Aβ and of Dkk1 on synapse morphology and memory impairment while inhibiting or silencing key elements of the Wnt-PCP pathway. RESULTS: We demonstrate that Aβ synaptotoxicity is also Dkk1 and Wnt-PCP dependent, mediated by the arm of Wnt-PCP regulating actin cytoskeletal dynamics via Daam1, RhoA and ROCK, and can be blocked by the drug fasudil. DISCUSSION: Our data add to the importance of aberrant Wnt signaling in Alzheimer's disease neuropathology and indicate that fasudil could be repurposed as a treatment for the disease.
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Alzheimer's disease, Amyloid, DAAM1, Dickkopf-1, Fasudil, Planar cell polarity, ROCK, Synapse, Synaptotoxicity, Wnt