Research / Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Research Highlights /

Research Highlights

Prof. Ho Jae Han

Urolithin A suppresses high glucose-induced neuronal amyloidogenesis by modulating TGM2-dependent ER-mitochondria contacts and calcium homeostasis

Sep 29, 2020

Hyperglycemia in diabetes mellitus (DM) patients is a causative factor for amyloidogenesis and induces neuropathological changes, such as impaired neuronal integrity, neurodegeneration, and cognitive impairment. Regulation of mitochondrial calcium influx from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is considered a promising strategy for the prevention of mitochondrial ROS (mtROS) accumulation that occurs in the Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-associated pathogenesis in DM patients. Among the metabolites of ellagitannins that are produced in the gut microbiome, urolithin A has received an increasing amount of attention as a novel candidate with anti-oxidative and neuroprotective effects in AD. Here, we investigated the effect of urolithin A on high glucose-induced amyloidogenesis caused by mitochondrial calcium dysregulation and mtROS accumulation resulting in neuronal degeneration. We also identified the mechanism related to mitochondria-associated ER membrane (MAM) formation. We found that urolithin A-lowered mitochondrial calcium influx significantly alleviated high glucose-induced mtROS accumulation and expression of amyloid beta (Aβ)-producing enzymes, such as amyloid precursor protein (APP) and β-secretase-1 (BACE1), as well as Aβ production. Urolithin A injections in a streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic mouse model alleviated APP and BACE1 expressions, Tau phosphorylation, Aβ deposition, and cognitive impairment. In addition, high glucose stimulated MAM formation and transglutaminase type 2 (TGM2) expression. We first discovered that urolithin A significantly reduced high glucose-induced TGM2 expression. In addition, disruption of the AIP–AhR complex was involved in urolithin A-mediated suppression of high glucose-induced TGM2 expression. Markedly, TGM2 silencing inhibited inositol 1, 4, 5-trisphosphate receptor type 1 (IP3R1)–voltage-dependent anion-selective channel protein 1 (VDAC1) interactions and prevented high glucose-induced mitochondrial calcium influx and mtROS accumulation. We also found that urolithin A or TGM2 silencing prevented Aβ-induced mitochondrial calcium influx, mtROS accumulation, Tau phosphorylation, and cell death in neuronal cells. In conclusion, we suggest that urolithin A is a promising candidate for the development of therapies to prevent DM-associated AD pathogenesis by reducing TGM2-dependent MAM formation and maintaining mitochondrial calcium and ROS homeostasis.