Impairment of glymphatic pathway function promotes tau pathology after traumatic brain injury

Jeffrey J Iliff, Michael J Chen, Benjamin A Plog, Douglas M Zeppenfeld, Melissa Soltero, Lijun Yang, Itender Singh, Rashid Deane, Maiken Nedergaard
Journal of Neuroscience: the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 2014 December 3, 34 (49): 16180-93
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an established risk factor for the early development of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, and the post-traumatic brain frequently exhibits neurofibrillary tangles comprised of aggregates of the protein tau. We have recently defined a brain-wide network of paravascular channels, termed the "glymphatic" pathway, along which CSF moves into and through the brain parenchyma, facilitating the clearance of interstitial solutes, including amyloid-β, from the brain. Here we demonstrate in mice that extracellular tau is cleared from the brain along these paravascular pathways. After TBI, glymphatic pathway function was reduced by ∼60%, with this impairment persisting for at least 1 month post injury. Genetic knock-out of the gene encoding the astroglial water channel aquaporin-4, which is importantly involved in paravascular interstitial solute clearance, exacerbated glymphatic pathway dysfunction after TBI and promoted the development of neurofibrillary pathology and neurodegeneration in the post-traumatic brain. These findings suggest that chronic impairment of glymphatic pathway function after TBI may be a key factor that renders the post-traumatic brain vulnerable to tau aggregation and the onset of neurodegeneration.


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