Increasing evidence suggests that recurrent Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1) infection spreading to the CNS is a risk factor for Alzheimer's Disease (AD) but the underlying mechanisms have not been fully elucidated yet. Here we demonstrate that in cultured mouse cortical neurons HSV-1 induced Ca(2+)-dependent activation of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3. This event was critical for the HSV-1-dependent phosphorylation of amyloid precursor protein (APP) at Thr668 and the following intraneuronal accumulation of amyloid-β protein (Aβ). HSV-1-infected neurons also exhibited: i) significantly reduced expression of the presynaptic proteins synapsin-1 and synaptophysin; ii) depressed synaptic transmission. These effects depended on GSK-3 activation and intraneuronal accumulation of Aβ. In fact, either the selective GSK-3 inhibitor, SB216763, or a specific antibody recognizing Aβ (4G8) significantly counteracted the effects induced by HSV-1 at the synaptic level. Moreover, in neurons derived from APP KO mice and infected with HSV-1 Aβ accumulation was not found and synaptic protein expression was only slightly reduced when compared to wild-type infected neurons. These data further support our contention that HSV-1 infections spreading to the CNS may contribute to AD phenotype.
- Herpes simplex virus type 1