APOE4 exacerbates synapse loss and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease patient iPSC-derived cerebral organoids

Jing Zhao, Yuan Fu, Yu Yamazaki, Yingxue Ren, Mary D. Davis, Chia Chen Liu, Wenyan Lu, Xue Wang, Kai Chen, Yesesri Cherukuri, Lin Jia, Yuka A. Martens, Lucy Job, Francis Shue, Thanh Thanh Nguyen, Steven G. Younkin, Neill R. Graff-Radford, Zbigniew K. Wszolek, David A. Brafman, Yan W. AsmannNilüfer Ertekin-Taner, Takahisa Kanekiyo, Guojun Bu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


APOE4 is the strongest genetic risk factor associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD). To address the underlying mechanism, we develop cerebral organoid models using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) with APOE ε3/ε3 or ε4/ε4 genotype from individuals with either normal cognition or AD dementia. Cerebral organoids from AD patients carrying APOE ε4/ε4 show greater apoptosis and decreased synaptic integrity. While AD patient-derived cerebral organoids have increased levels of Aβ and phosphorylated tau compared to healthy subject-derived cerebral organoids, APOE4 exacerbates tau pathology in both healthy subject-derived and AD patient-derived organoids. Transcriptomics analysis by RNA-sequencing reveals that cerebral organoids from AD patients are associated with an enhancement of stress granules and disrupted RNA metabolism. Importantly, isogenic conversion of APOE4 to APOE3 attenuates the APOE4-related phenotypes in cerebral organoids from AD patients. Together, our study using human iPSC-organoids recapitulates APOE4-related phenotypes and suggests APOE4-related degenerative pathways contributing to AD pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5540
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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